The Catholic faith uses medals to venerate major figures, places, and events in the history of Catholicism, as well as a form of holy protection. Some of these figures are saints who have played a notable role within the religion. Each medal has a specific meaning or purpose related to each saint.
This medal represents St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino and considered the father of monasticism in the West. He is known to be a highly devoted man who performed several miracles. He had a great number of devoted disciples, which led to his reputation as the benefactor of students and school children. St. Benedict is also known as a protector against poison due to a failed assassination attempt.
This medal represents St. Anthony of Padua, a Portuguese priest and Franciscan friar who was renowned as a teacher and preacher. St. Anthony is the benefactor of lost people and objects, based on a story where a Franciscan novice stole his psalter and left. After Anthony prayed for its return, both the thief and the psalter returned to the Order. People look to St. Anthony to recover lost or stolen articles.
The medal of St. Jude invokes Judas Thaddeus, one of the original 12 apostles to Jesus, and not to be confused with Judas Iscariot. St. Jude is known for his preaching of the Gospel during hopeless situations. As such, he is known as the patron of people with lost causes. St. Jude had a resurgence of popularity in 1929, after the Claretians in southeast Chicago started devoting services to him. Catholics seek him for guidance and hope during difficult times.
St. Joseph is the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. He initially sent Mary away after finding out she was pregnant with someone else’s child, before an angel instructed him to raise and protect God’s child. Joseph is the patron of fathers, workers, immigrants, travelers, and several countries. Someone wearing a St. Joseph medal seeks protection for these people, as well as fatherly care in general.
St. Christopher is the subject of numerous legends and stories. Originally the man who would become Christopher was a ferryman named Offerus. He was a large, strong man who carried people across a river. One day a child asked him for transportation to the other side of the waterway. Offerus completed the request, even as the child grew heavier and heavier. The child later revealed himself to be Jesus, who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Offerus became known as “Christopher” which means “Christ-bearer”, as a result. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and transportation.
St. Gerard is the benefactor of mothers, children, and childbirth. His reputation comes from a story where, after departing from a visit to the Pirofalo family, one of the daughters noticed he left behind a handkerchief and tried to return it. Gerard told her to keep it, since it could be useful to her one day. During a dangerous delivery years later, she held the handkerchief, which kept the child safe throughout the process. St. Gerard is also known for protecting the falsely accused.
St. Peregrine Laziosi started as a rebel and enemy of the church in his hometown of Forli, Italy. The pope sent Philip Benizi to the city as a peace ambassador, but Peregrine assaulted him. The rebel became remorseful afterward and asked for his forgiveness. He renounced his ways and became a priest. St. Peregrine is known as the patron saint of people with cancer, foot conditions, and other incurable diseases after a cancerous growth in his foot disappeared overnight after prayer. He reportedly cured other people throughout Forli after that.
St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes and archers. Medals with St. Sebastian often depict him as a martyr, tied to a tree and getting shot with arrows during Diocletian’s (the Roman emperor) persecution of Christians. He is a “champion of Christ and guardian of the heavens,” or an athleta Christi. St. Sebastian is a symbol of strength and courage in the face of adversity. The Catholic faith attributes protection of athletes to St. Sebastian, as well as the gifts of stamina and perseverance.
St. Thérèse L.F.
St. Thérèse Lisieux Little Flower is credited with remarkable spiritual accomplishments during her 24 years of life. Born in Alençon, France, St. Thérèse L.F. was a Carmelite nun who lived a pious life before passing away from tuberculosis. She had visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus and was the youngest person the Pope has ever designated a doctor of the church. Wearing a St. Thérèse L.F. medal reminds people to live a life of simplicity and to bloom wherever God has planted them. St. Thérèse is the patron saint of aviators, florists, and missionaries, and the protector of many causes, including protection against sicknesses.
St. Andrew Patron Medal
St. Andrew the Apostle was one of the disciples closest to Jesus. He is called the first Apostle. According to Scripture, St. Andrew was the disciple who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8). He was also in Simon Peter’s boat and attended the last supper. He was crucified for baptizing the wife of a Roman governor. As a patron saint, St. Andrew offers protections to fishermen and singers. Wearing a St. Andrew patron medal can bring luck and safety.
St. Anne Medal
St. Anne is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s mother and Jesus’ grandmother. Although the Bible doesn’t mention Anne, other religious books acknowledge her as Mary’s mother and say she and Mary’s father, Joachim, had trouble bearing children until the angel Gabriel appeared and said they would have a child who they must dedicate to God. She is the patron saint of childless couples and married women. Wearing a St. Anne medal is said to bring the wearer grace, peace, and fertility.
St. Barbara Medal
The St. Barbara medal is a popular choice for miners and field artillerymen. She was a Christian martyr, the extremely beautiful daughter of a pagan named Dioscorus. Dioscorus protected her by locking her up in a tower, where she spent her days admiring God’s creations. She secretly became a Christian and dedicated her life to God. Ultimately, Barbara was tortured and beheaded for her faith. She offers protection (especially from lightning and fire) and the hope of a “good death” to wearers.
St. Florian Medal
St. Florian is the patron saint of firefighters and floods. A St. Florian medal is a great gift for firefighters, said to give them courage and protect them even in the most dangerous situations. St. Florian became a saint for refusing to obey commands to persecute Christians. St. Florian was tortured and put to death by drowning, but did so calmly as a child of God. He became the patron saint of firefighters because he was the leader of a Roman fire brigade.
St. Francis of Assisi Medal
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals, the environment, and traders. St. Francis of Assisi could allegedly speak to animals, and saved a town from a vicious wolf. He was a Catholic friar, deacon, and preacher. He is a popular patron saint for pet owners, who pray to St. Francis of Assisi for protection over their pets. Wearing a St. Francis of Assisi Medal is believed to offer protection for animals and the natural environment.
St. George Medal
St. George was a Palestinian soldier under Roman emperor Diocletian. He was put to death for refusing to give up his Christian faith. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and the patron saint of England. St. George is known for his strength and courage, even in the face of death. Wearers can evoke St. George’s name in battles – both physical and otherwise – for protection.
Saint medals commemorate the saints they bear, as well as offer different protections to the wearer. They are a Catholic Church tradition full of meaning and power. According to the Catholic faith, wearing a saint medal around your neck, on your wrist, or keeping it in your home or car can give you protection and blessings from the saint him- or herself. Countless stories from around the world accredit saint medals with miracles, good news, and safety. Here are the meanings of the last eight most popular saint medals in this series.