In Catholicism, a saint is any deceased person who lived a life of exceptional holiness formally recognized in a special religious process called canonization. The Catholic Church identifies an estimated 10,000 saints whom can be called on in prayer during times of need, but are some saints better than others for certain requests and petitions? You bet!
Pablo Ricardo Quintana’s The Comprehensive Dictionary of Patron Saints, according to the author, “provides the most comprehensive listing available of patron saints…[and] includes over 2500 listings.” Clocking in at over 400 pages, Quintana’s labor of love is an A-Z compendium, organized by need. If you’re suffering from a severe case of acne, for example, turn to the entry for “acne” and you’ll see Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Spanish nun, a saint often associated with skin disorders. Or say you’re a printer hoping to call on a saint for guidance in your work; look up the word “printer” and you’ll find that Augustine of Hippo could give you a hand. Suffering from eye problems? St. Lucy is your holy woman.
Quintana’s book is a smorgasbord for fans of the saints, and his introductory material, which outlines the basic importance of saints as well as some customs that orbit around them (for instance, there’s a little known tradition in New Mexico of punishing a saint until you get what you want…poor saint), is simple and spirited. Major saints are listed in bold along with lesser-known saints (e.g., there are eight saints associated with alcoholism).
One minor quibble: In the introduction the author is inconsistent in his capitalization of the word “saint.” Further, readers should be aware that this is just a book of listings. Anyone looking for biographies of the saints would be better off, as the author suggests, seeking out Butler’s Lives of the Saints.
Overall, Quintana’s book is informative and will benefit anyone with a problem that needs specific saintly attention.
Also available as an ebook.