15 Unusual Patron Saints

L-R: St. Januarius, St Bernardino of Siena, St Giles
L-R: St. Januarius, St Bernardino of Siena, St Giles
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On May 13, Pope Francis canonized the two most recent saints in the Catholic Church at a special ceremony in Portugal. Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta Marto, a young brother and sister from the Portuguese parish of Fatima, are said to have witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary exactly 100 years ago this year, and Pope Francis’s canonization marked the centenary of their first miraculous vision.

Because the locals at the time first refused to believe the Marto siblings’ story—and because they both succumbed to the great flu epidemic that swept Europe just two years later—Saints Franciso and Jacinta of Fatima are already considered patron saints of the sick, of chronic bodily illnesses, and of those ridiculed for their piety. But what if you have other problems or interests that would require the divine assistance of an even more specific saint? Well …

1. ST. ADJUTOR

St. Adjutor is said to have either escaped Muslim captors during the First Crusade and escaped by swimming (according to various stories, he either swam to Crusader territory, swam all the way to France, or was recaptured and then transported back to France by Mary Magdalene), or else calmed a whirlpool that had emerged beside a boat he was traveling on. Either way, he’s now considered the patron saint of swimmers and those at danger from drowning.

2. ST. BALTHASAR

Medieval tradition held that the three kings who visited Jesus in the stable came from all corners of the Medieval world; Balthazar hailed from Africa—frequently Egypt. At the time, Romani card sharps and sideshow sleight-of-hand merchants were popular entertainers across Europe. Because it was mistakenly believed they came from Egypt (hence the name Gypsies) the Egyptian king—St. Balthasar—became the patron saint of playing card manufacturers.

3. ST. BERNARDINO OF SIENA

St. Bernardino of Siena was so well known for his crowd-pleasing public preaching in the early 15th century that he’s now considered the patron saint of advertising and public relations.

4. ST. COLUMBANUS

St. Columbanus spent much of the 6th and 7th century roaming around Europe—and that love of the open road has led to him being considered the patron saint of motorcyclists.

5. ST. DROGO

St. Drogo was so afflicted by a mystery ailment that made him physically repulsive that he’s now considered the patron saint of unattractive people. Entirely unrelatedly, he’s also the patron saint of coffeehouses.

6. ST. ERASMUS

St. Erasmus, Bishop of Formia in modern-day Italy, went through quite an ordeal during the Roman Empire’s persecution of the Christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Initially captured and imprisoned sometime in the late 200s, Erasmus is said to have been freed by an angel and fled to Turkey to continue his preaching. Arrested a second time, however, Erasmus’ undying faith so angered the Emperor Maximian that he had him beaten, whipped, placed in a barrel of spikes and rolled down a hill, covered in pitch and set alight, and finally—after he had somehow miraculously survived—his stomach cut open and his intestines wound around a winch. It’s for that latter torture that Erasmus is now considered the patron saint of stomach ailments, colic, and appendicitis.

7. ST. GILES

St. Giles is said to have lived as a hermit in the south of France in the later 7th century, nourishing himself only with the milk of a female deer. Because of that—as well as being the patron saint of the city of Edinburgh—St. Giles is also the patron saint of breastfeeding.

8. ST. GUMMARUS

St. Gummarus of Belgium was an 8th century figure whose wife, a local noblewoman named Guinmarie, was known for her shrewish and abusive behavior. Despite Gummarus’s attempts to salvage their relationship, they separated—and after he went on to found an abbey at Lier, he became the patron saint of difficult marriages.

9. ST. JANUARIUS

A vial of blood belonging to St. Januarius, a 3rd century Bishop of Naples, was saved after his death in 305. The blood is the subject of a longstanding miracle that claims, despite its age, that it liquefies on three dates in the year: September 19, December 16, and the Saturday before the first Sunday in May. For that reason, Januarius is the patron saint of blood banks.

10. ST. JULIAN THE HOSPITALLER

St. Julian the Hospitaller's name refers to the fact that he opened a hostel for travelers and dedicated his life to providing hospitality for the sick and needy—but only after he’d killed his parents in a twist on the story of Oedipus. For that reason, he’s the patron saint of murderers, should you ever need one.

11. ST. LIDWINA

St. Lidwina fell while ice skating at the age of 15 and never fully recovered from her injuries. After a life of piety, her grave became a site of pilgrimage; after her canonization, she became the patron saint of ice skaters.

12. ST. MÉDARD OF PICARDY

St. Médard of Picardy is the patron saint of protection against bad weather, supposedly due to the fact that when he was an infant an eagle flew above him during a storm to shelter him from the rain. According to folklore, whatever the weather on St. Médard’s Day—June 8—you can expect the weather to remain the same for the next 40 days.

13. ST. RITA

Despite wanting to be a nun, St. Rita's parents forced her to marry when she was 12. Through her husband she became embroiled in a bitter feud between two local families; the feud eventually led to her husband’s murder, and the deaths of both her sons. Because of her lifetime of disappointments, difficulty and setbacks, Rita is now considered the patron saint of the impossible.

14. ST. SERVATIUS

St. Servatius was a 4th century Armenian priest who died in Maastricht in the Netherlands of an infection to a leg wound in 384. Not only is Servatius now the patron saint of the city of Maastricht, he’s also responsible for foot and leg disorders, rheumatism, and protection against rats and mice.

15. ST. VEDAST

St. Vedast, or Vaast as he’s also known, is the patron saint of children who are late in learning to walk.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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10 Facts About David Fincher's The Social Network for Its 10th Anniversary

Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network—a movie made when Facebook was less than seven years old and the social media era was relatively new—seemed destined to age poorly. But in the decade since its premiere in October 2010, the film’s depiction of the website and its young founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is more relevant than ever.

Even if you haven’t logged onto Facebook in years, the film offers plenty to love, from David Fincher’s detailed direction to Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script. In honor of its 10-year anniversary, here are 10 facts about The Social Network.

1. Aaron Sorkin started writing the script for The Social Network before the book it's based on was published.

Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network is officially an adaptation of The Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich's 2009 book detailing the founding of Facebook. But according to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, he had already completed 80 percent of the script by the time he read the book. The project came to him in the form of a 14-page book proposal the publisher was shopping around to filmmakers ahead of the title's release. “I said yes on page three," Sorkin told Deadline in 2011. "That’s the fastest I’ve ever said yes to anything."

Instead of waiting for The Accidental Billionaires to be completed and published, Sorkin started working on the script immediately, doing his own first-hand research for much of the process instead of referring to the book.

2. Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

When Transformers star Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of The Social Network’s lead character, Jesse Eisenberg was hired to play Mark Zuckerberg instead. Superbad's Jonah Hill was another star who came close to being cast in the movie, in his case as Napster founder Sean Parker; ultimately, Fincher decided Hill wasn’t right for the role and cast Justin Timberlake instead.

3. The Social Network wasn’t filmed at Harvard.

Harvard University is integral to the legend of Facebook, and setting the first half of The Social Network there was non-negotiable. Filmmakers ran into trouble, however, when attempting to get the school's blessing. The 1970 adaptation of Love Story been shot there, and damaged the campus; the school has reportedly banned all commercial filming on the premises since then. To get around this, The Social Network crew shot the Harvard scenes at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and two prep schools, Phillips Academy Andover and Milton Academy, in Massachusetts.

4. David Fincher did sneak one shot of Harvard into The Social Network.

To convince the audience that they were indeed seeing Harvard, Fincher couldn’t resist sneaking in a shot of the campus’s iconic architecture. When Jesse Eisenberg runs across Harvard Square (which is not on Harvard property) in the beginning film, some nearby arches (which are on Harvard property) appear in the background. Fincher got the lighting he needed for this scene by hiring a street mime to roll a cart with lights on it onto the campus.

“If security were to stop him, the mime wouldn’t talk," The Social Network’s director of photography Jeff Cronenweth told Variety. "By the time they got him out of there, we would have accomplished our shot.”

5. Natalie Portman gave Aaron Sorkin the inside scoop on Harvard.

Natalie Portman attended Harvard from 1999 to 2003, briefly overlapping with fellow star alum Mark Zuckerberg. While enrolled, she dated a member of one of the university’s elite final clubs, which are an important part of The Social Network’s plot. When she learned that Sorkin was writing the screenplay for the movie, she invited the writer over to hear her insider knowledge. Sorkin gave the actress a shout-out in the final script. During one of the deposition scenes, Eisenberg's Harvard-era Zuckerberg is described as “the biggest thing on a campus that included 19 Nobel Laureates, 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians, and a movie star.”

6. Armie Hammer and his body double went to twin boot camp for The Social Network.

Armie Hammer and Josh Pence (as Armie Hammer) in The Social Network (2010).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Armie Hammer is credited as playing both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, but he wasn’t acting alone in his scenes. Josh Pence was cast as a body double and Hammer’s face was digitally pasted over his in post-production. For every scene where both twins appear on screen, Hammer and Pence played separate Winklevi, and then they would swap roles and shoot the scene again. This method allowed the characters to physically interact in ways that wouldn’t have been possible with split screens. Pence’s face may be missing from the movie, but his physical performance was still essential to selling the brothers' dynamic. He and Hammer worked with an acting coach for 10 months to nail down the characters’ complementary body language.

7. The Social Network's tagline was changed at the last minute.

For The Social Network’s main poster, designer Neil Kellerhouse made Jesse Eisenberg’s face the focal point. Over it, he superimposed the memorable tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Originally, the text read “300 million friends,” but it was changed under the assumption that Facebook would hit half a billion users in time for the movie’s October 2010 release.

“We were really hedging our bets," Kellerhouse told IndieWire. "But we scooped them on their own story because right as the film was coming out they got 500 million [members] so we got their publicity as well. It worked out super serendipitously.”

8. Fight Club’s Tyler Durden (kind of) makes a cameo in The Social Network.

Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed the Easter egg David Fincher snuck into The Social Network. In the scene where Mark Zuckerberg is checking someone’s Facebook to cheat on a test, the name “Tyler Durden” can be seen in the top-left corner of the profile. Tyler Durden is the name of the narrator’s alter ego (played by Brad Pitt) in 1999’s Fight Club. Fincher directed both films.

9. The real Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t a fan of The Social Network.

Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network doesn’t paint Mark Zuckerberg in the most flattering light, and unsurprisingly, the real-life Facebook founder wasn’t happy about it. Following the movie’s release, he called out its “hurtful” inaccuracies, specifically citing the fictional Mara Rooney character that’s used as his motivation for founding the website. But even he admits that some details were spot-on. “It’s interesting what stuff they focused on getting right," Zuckerberg said at a Stanford event. "Like every single fleece and shirt I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own.”

10. A sequel to The Social Network is not out of the question.

The Social Network premiered when Facebook was less than a decade old, and the story of the internet giant has only gotten more dramatic since then. Since settling lawsuits with Eduardo Saverin and the Winkelvoss twins, Facebook has been battling scandals related to privacy issues and its influence on the 2016 election. The last 10 years have provided more than enough material for a sequel to The Social Network, and both Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg have expressed interest in such a project. As of now, there are no confirmed plans for a follow-up.