St. Anne: Patron Saint of Infertility
According to a second-century apocryphal work called The Protoevangelium of James, Anne lived with her husband Joachim for many years without bearing a child. But at long last God sent an angel to announce to Anne that she would become pregnant and give birth to a daughter. The angel also promised Anne that her child would be spoken of around the world. “Now I know the Lord God has blessed me exceedingly,” Anne said to Joachim. “I, the childless, shall conceive.” Anne and Joachim’s daughter was, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Since St. Anne is the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, Christians have always believed that her prayers must have great influence in heaven. Devotion to St. Anne is especially strong among women who long for children but have a hard time becoming pregnant.
St. Juliana: The Patron Saint of Chronic Illness
Juliana Falconieri grew up among saints. Her uncle, St. Alexis Falconieri, was one of the seven founders of the Servite order. The priest who taught her as a child and acted as her spiritual director was St. Philip Benizi, one of the early superiors of the Servites. Inspired by the holiness around her, Juliana decided to affiliate herself with the Servites as a nun. Juliana added works of charity to the Servite way of life by going out into the streets of Florence to help the sick, the helpless, and the abandoned.
Because of her own struggle with sickness, St. Juliana became the patron of people suffering from any type of chronic illness. During the last years of her life, she was plagued by an undiagnosed stomach ailment. Eventually the illness proved fatal. As she lay dying, she was seized by such a severe bout of vomiting that the attendant priest deemed her unable to receive Holy Communion. Instead, at Juliana’s request, he covered her chest with a corporal (a linen cloth) and laid the consecrated host over her heart. According to the story, the Eucharist vanished a few moments later.
St. Peregrine: The Patron Saint of Cancer
Peregrine Laziosi’s conversion came about in the middle of a street brawl. He was one of the young hotheads of Forli, an Italian town that had sided with the holy Roman emperor in his power struggle with the Pope. The priest St. Philip Benizi was dispatched to urge the Forlians to come back to the Church. Peregrine Laziosi charged across the piazza, grabbed the front of St. Philip’s religious habit, and struck him hard across the face. In response Philip turned the other cheek, waiting for another blow. Faced with such perfect Christ-like meekness, Peregrine’s rage turned to shame. He joined St. Philip’s religious order and became a Servite priest.
For many years Peregrine suffered from an acute pain in his right leg. It was eventually found to be cancer. In a last-ditch effort to save the priest’s life, the physician planned to amputate. The night before surgery, the suffering Peregrine dragged himself to the life-size crucifix that hung in the monastery. He sat at the foot of the cross and prayed until he fell asleep, dreaming of Christ climbing down from the cross and touching his cancerous limb. When he awoke, the wound on his knee had healed and not a trace of the cancer remained.