By Tim Lilley
Journey of Faith
Have you ever heard of them – the Fourteen Holy Helpers? They exist; a group of saints whom we can prayerfully request intercession from in this worldwide fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
They include Saints Agathius, Barbara, Blaise, Catherine of Alexander, Christopher, Cyriacus, Denis Erasmus, Eustace, George, Giles, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon and Vitus.
They have a Wikipedia page. It begins, “The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints venerated together in Roman Catholicism because their intercession is believed to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases. This group of Nothelfer ("helpers in need") originated in the 14th century at first in the Rhineland, largely as a result of the epidemic (probably of bubonic plague) that became known as the Black Death.”
Two of them immediately jumped out to me.
Saint Blaise is the patron of illnesses of the throat. I bet you’ve been blessed by a priest who held crossed candles against your throat and prayed, “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Saint Christopher is well-known as the patron saint of travel. Growing up, all my Catholic relatives had magnetic statues of Saint Christopher mounted to their cars’ dashboards. Yep; dashboards once were made of metal, and you could stick magnetic things to them. Crazy, huh?
If you search “The Fourteen Holy Helpers” online, you should find a link to a 2016 article about them on the website Catholicism.org. I mention it because it appeared years before COVID-19 broke out, so the Fourteen Holy Helpers are “the real deals” when it comes to praying for intercession against the pandemic. I say it that way because you likely can find places where Saint Corona – and there IS a Saint Corona – is called the patron of coronavirus. She actually is the patron saint of treasure hunters or gamblers, based on what I have been able to learn about her.
Finally, you will read that the devotion to the Fourteen Holy Helpers began in Rhineland, a region of Germany. Since our diocese has such strong, wonderful German roots, it seems most appropriate to seek their intercession – especially now.
Fourteen Holy Helpers, pray for us.