Patron Saints of the Digital Age
Saint Genesius serves as quite an interesting model for those involved in performance art of any kind. During a play in which he performed before the fourth-century Roman Emporor Diocletian, he acted out a mockery of the sacrament of baptism. During the course of the play, he underwent a conversion and desired actual baptism. Diocletian, known for killing Christians, was infuriated, and demanded that Saint Genesius be brought before him. After Genesius refused to deny his Christianity, he was beheaded for the faith.
The most famous legacy of Saint Genesius is perhaps his shrine in the theatre district of Manhattan, New York, at the Church of Saint Malachy, also known as the ‘Actor’s Chapel.’ Also, the Fraternity of Saint Genesius was founded in 2007 to assist actors in their pursuit of the Church’s call to the New Evangelization.
Saint Bernadine of Siena
The most lamentable thing about the life of Saint Bernadine is that it was lived in the fifteenth century, five hundred years prior to the digital age. He was a dynamic Italian preacher with the Friars Minor, who called for cultural reform, particularly in the areas of gossip and vanity. As we well know, gossip and vanity are connected. Our impulse to stain the images of others is often an attempt to make ourselves look superior. Who better to be the patron of advertisers?
Saint Bernadine was known for hosting ‘bonfires of the vanities,’ which allowed people to cast into the fire those things which served as obstacles to their relationships with God, a practice that still holds some modicum of appeal to those of us who feel conflicted by our relationship with the media. If the idealism so often common to advertising appeals to our vanity, then Saint Bernadine can serve as a powerful example and helper in the court of heaven.
Blessed Fra Angelico
Michelangelo is, at least officially speaking, not on the path to sainthood. Someone who is, however, is a Dominican who took the name of Fra Giovanna and who spent the early part of his life in fifteenth-century Italy illuminating manuscripts. His skill was quickly recognized, and he moved on to paint frescoes, altarpieces, and other magnificent works that remain with us today.
In recognition of the holiness and unique talent of the man who came to be known as Fra Angelico, Blessed Pope John Paul II gave him the honour of beatification in 1982, and the distinction of being the patron of artists in 1984. Fra Angelico serves as a model to all those who have artistic gifts in this digital age, to use them to the glory of God and not to the Glory of self.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel
It seems almost elementary that the archangel who announced messianic prophecies to Daniel and Zachariah and announced the conception of the Messiah himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary would be the patron saint of broadcasters of all kinds. Gabriel was charged with proclaiming the message of Christ to the people of God, and his patronage of broadcasters is a reminder to those of us who also have the ability to publicly proclaim things to make sure that what we are proclaiming is in line with the truth.
Muslims believe that Gabriel was the one who delivered the Qur’an directly to Muhammad, the book which serves as the words that inform Islam. We as Christians know, however, that Gabriel’s real role has always been to deliver the message that the Son of God, the Word or Logos of the Father, which is a person of the Trinity, is among us and must be taken notice of. We who are involved in the production or consumption of broadcast material can use the example of Saint Gabriel the Archangel to remind us of the distinction between mere words and the Word.
Saint Francis de Sales
When it comes to presenting Church teaching in the midst of cultural distortions, the life and ministry of Saint Francis de Sales is unparalleled. As bishop of Geneva in the years directly following the massive influence of the protestant reformer John Calvin, he certainly had his work cut out for him. This ‘gentleman saint,’ as he has often been referred to, took advantage of his platform not to deride or belittle his opponents, but to present the truth in a spirit of love and joyfulness. This popular quote is attributed to Saint Francis: ‘You can catch more flies with spoonful of honey than with a barrelful of vinegar.’
In 1877, Pope Pius IX declared Saint Francis a doctor of the Church due to his voluminous and insightful writings, and in 1923, Pope Pius XI designated him as the patron of communicators, most specifically those involved in Catholic media. Saint Francis de Sales reminds us that we are not only called to proclaim the truth; we are called to proclaim it in fullness of charity.
Saint John the Apostle
It’s no surprise that the beloved disciple, the son of Zebedee, should be associated with publishing careers of all kinds. After all, in addition to writing one of the four Gospels, Saint John gave us three epistles and the book of Revelation. Outside of Saint Paul, he is, traditionally speaking, the greatest contributor to the texts of the New Testament.
Perhaps most significant in the life of Saint John is his track record of fidelity to the truth. When all the apostles, even Peter, abandoned Jesus during his passion, John remained faithful to what he had heard. He stayed with his saviour at the foot of cross, even at the risk of his own life. May all responsible for transmitting information take heed to John’s example when it comes to keeping our communications faithful to the truth.
Saint Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore, the seventh-century bishop of Seville, was given the distinction of patron of the Internet due to the fact that he wrote dictionaries, encyclopedias, and histories, cataloging information in a comprehensive and accessible fashion. For those of us who look to digital media to satiate our endless appetite for information, Saint Isidore of Seville (who was proclaimed a doctor of the Church in 1722 by Pope Innocent XIII) can assist us and lead us to that which is true and edifying in the midst of so many false and destructive Internet resources. There are even prayers that have been composed to Saint Isidore that some people keep next to their computer and pray before logging onto the Internet.
Saint Maximillian Kolbe
When it comes to detailing the life of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, it is difficult to figure out where to begin. He is known as the man who gave his life in exchange for another man’s in a World War II concentration camp, but before that, his involvement in Catholic media was prototypical of so many who desire to spread the faith through new media.
Saint Maximillian’s father ran a religious bookstore, which no doubt was formative for the young saint. This promoter of the Miraculous Medal was also a promoter of various forms of social communication. He founded his own magazine, which at its peak, had a circulation of some seven hundred fifty thousand copies per month. He also began a Catholic newspaper, and was able to base a radio station out of his monastery as early as 1938. For intrepid new-media enthusiasts, Saint Maximillian Kolbe models the leap of faith so many of us are inspired to take in service of the Gospel.
The heroism of Saint Cecelia, particularly given the youthful age at which she was martyred, struck a chord with many in the early Christian Church. After vowing celibacy, she found herself forced into an arranged marriage by her parents. Her husband, upon realizing the purity of Cecelia, agreed to baptism and celibacy himself, and took to the corporal work of mercy of burying martyrs. When he was finally martyred himself, Cecilia undertook the task of providing for his own burial. This didn’t sit well with the governing authorities, and she was arrested.
Cecilia was offered the opportunity to renounce he Christian faith by sacrificing to pagan gods, like so many heroic martyrs, she refused. As it is related to us by written tradition, she sang a hymn to Jesus while facing her martyrdom, which has led her long-standing patronage of all those involved in musical professions.
Saint Paul the Apostle
From the very beginning, if Saint Peter was the authority Christ established to govern his Church, then Saint Paul was his press secretary. Everything about the converted Pharisee, who had once made his living persecuting Christians, was focused upon transmitting clearly the message of Christ crucified and risen. No one has more of a forum in the New Testament than Saint Paul; the bulk of our scriptural understanding of Christ and his Church comes from this saint who had once helped facilitate the persecution of Christians.
Saint Paul was the greatest missionary of the first century Church. The task of the missionary is similar to the task of the public relations expert; indeed, the two vocations are far from mutually exclusive. Instead of a false form of public relations which applies a veneer to an organization’s true dealings, we should look to Saint Paul as a model of boldness, truth, and transparency when It comes to communication who we are and what we believe.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
The ‘angelic doctor,’ Saint Thomas Aquinas received a disproportionate abundance of inspiration. How is it that the same man who penned the Summa Theologiae was also graced with the ability to write stunning hymn like the Pange Lingua? Thomas mapped out the possibility of a triune God starting from the drawing board of human reason, and was able to deduce the truth of Catholicism from it in a few thousand pages. Hardly an easy task.
Thomas is the patron of students as well- those tasked with educating themselves before engaging in a profession. All those who aspire to careers in digital media of any kind would do well to invoke his intercession on their path to whatever communications job they intend to seek. The reflection and clarity of Saint Thomas should seve as a model to all who desire to seek the truth and transmit it.
Saint Mary of Egypt
Prior to converting to Christianity, Saint Mary of Eqypt’s reasons for going to church weren’t exactly related to reception of the sacraments. A travelling dancer and a prostitute, Mary visited a church in Jerusalem one morning in hopes of recruiting customers on their way out of Mass. When she came to the doors of the church, she found herself unable to open them. This devastated Mary, as she suddenly realized that it was not a particular church building that had locked her out, but that she herself had shut the door to Christ’s mercy of her own accord.
In penance for her life of lustful indulgence, Saint Mary of Egypt lived the remaining fifty years of her life as a hermit. For those of us who suffer from sexual temptations of any kind, augmented by the digital age, Saint Mary serves as a model of radical virtue over and against the selfish demands of a sex-centred society.
Saint Clare of Assisi
This associate of Saint Francis of Assisi helped facilitate a women’s movement that ran parallel to that of the Friars Minor; an itinerant and evangelistic mendicant order that sought to remind people of the simplicity of the Gospel.
Her patronage of television is tied to an account from her later life. Elderly and bedridden Saint Clare was bodily unable to attend Mass, but we are told that she was able to see images of the Eucharistic sacrifice on the wall of her cell, projected as though on a screen. As an intercessor in heaven, she no doubt has great concern for the challenges and privileges of communicating through the medium of television.
p.s: Sharing & extracted from the book,‘Prayer In The Digital Age’, by Matt Swaim