10 saints who teach us how to live lives of holiness and virtue.
By Rachel Padilla
Saints are role models for us. They show us how to live out virtues and respond to our call to holiness. Saints are also our patrons. We call on them in specific needs or for particular causes. For teachers, there are many examples of saints who were educators or students. We can and should look to them and ask for their intercession. There are other saints, however, who may not be directly associated with education but still provide holy examples for us or whose patronage we may need.
St. John Bosco
Father Bosco is known for his work with youth and is considered their patron. However, he was different from many educators of his time. He was not afraid to shun common practices in favor of a better way. He refused to use corporal punishment and befriended his students. He knew that meeting someone where they are can draw them in to what we wish to teach them. St. John Bosco’s willingness to be a close guide rather than an authoritarian ruler is worthy of our emulation in our own classrooms.
St. Anthony of Padua
This saint is the patron of lost things. As organized and put together as we may strive to be, everyone loses something now and then. We can ask for St. Anthony’s intercession to help us find our misplaced classroom keys, our wandering train of thought, or that missing student work. We may also tell our students to ask for his intercession when looking for that lost special pencil or the homework they’re sure they put in their backpack this morning.
Bl. Chiara Luce BadanoDiagnosed with a terminal cancer as a young woman, Chiara maintained her joy and inner peace throughout her suffering. She is an example of patient endurance. As educators, there are many situations that test our patience. Remaining serene is difficult enough, but Chiara managed to also reflect the joy of Christ. We also should strive to reflect that joy regardless of the stress or suffering we may experience. This saintly young woman shows us that this is possible with God.
St. JudeSometimes, in teaching, it feels like certain situations are impossible. St. Jude is the patron of such cases. Whether it be a difficult student, a mountain of grading, or a class that’s falling behind, we can turn to Jude. He will intercede for us in these situations, no matter how difficult or improbable.
St. LucyThe patron of eye issues, St. Lucy, is a good friend to have on those late nights of grading by a dim light. She can also be a powerful intercessor for that one student you’re pretty sure needs glasses — even though his parents deny it. We can ask for St. Lucy’s help for ourselves, our students, and our coworkers. In addition, Lucy was a martyr who died rather than deny God. She remained a faithful witness to the faith despite even the threat of death. We are also called to be witnesses to our students as we are able.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla
Some days, teaching may make some educators wonder if they really want kids of their own. St. Gianna is a role model of the sacrificial love we should have for our students. They are precious gifts from God, even if they don’t always act like it. Gianna was willing to risk her own life to give her unborn child a better chance of survival. Because of this, she wound up sacrificing her life for her child. While we hopefully won’t be called to such extreme lengths, the vocation of teaching requires certain sacrifices for the benefit of our students.
St. MaurusThis lesser-known saint is the patron against the common cold. Anyone who works with children regularly exposes themselves to a variety of germs and viruses. Staying healthy is a priority, especially when having a sub can be more difficult than going in to work sick. We can also pray for his intercession to keep our students and coworkers healthy.
St. Josemaría EscriváThe founder of Opus Dei, this saint is known for his teachings on the sanctity of work. Teaching often feels like a labor of love, but rarely is it emphasized that this work is a prayer. As such, our care and attention in each moment matters. St. Josemaría reminds us that diligence, care, and perseverance are not only virtues to have in our work, but are essential to it. We can ask for his intercession in remaining focused during our planning period and also in balancing our work with the rest of our life.
A list of saints for teachers would not be complete without mention of the patron of coffee. Technically, his patronage is that of coffee houses but the relevancy remains. Perhaps you personally avoid caffeine, but many educators rely on their daily cup to get them through. This saint is for them. We can pray to him that our morning coffee run does not make us late for first period or perhaps ask for his intercession in helping us avoid dependence on coffee.
St. Joseph of CupertinoPerhaps as the patron of test-takers, St. Joseph of Cupertino seems to be more fit a saint for our students, but he can be a great help to teachers as well. Joseph struggled in school though he did his best. For one important exam, he prayed to only be asked the questions he knew. His prayer was answered. As educators, we may sometimes feel that our best still leaves room for improvement. St. Joseph of Cupertino reminds us that God will bless our efforts.
These saints come from various backgrounds and times in history, yet each could be a patron or role model for teachers. These are just a few of the numerous saints we can imitate and ask for intercession. Like all holy men and women, these ten teach us how to live lives of holiness and virtue. Their kindness, hope, faith, and joy are things we should strive to emulate both in and out of our classrooms. As witnesses in Heaven, they can pray for us and intercede on our behalf in all our necessities.
Rachel Padilla is a campus minister in Colorado.
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