The Saints

Like all dutiful and doting boyfriends, I got hosed on February 14th. Why? Because someone, somewhere decided that the feast day for the Patron Saint of Lovers, St Valentine, should turn from a celebration of love into a veritable orgy of spending.

What would St Valentine have thought about this rampant, crass commercialism? He would have spewed - violently and often, is my guess. Here's a man who was made a saint because of his ability to endure being beaten with a club and then beheaded by the Romans for his beliefs. Today we honour him by handing out chocolates, greeting cards and overpriced floral arrangements.

It got me thinking about the idea of Saints - and, as I am wont to do, I went looking to see what I could find out. What surfaced startled me - there are millions of the bastards. There's the big saints we all know about, like St Peter, St Michael, St John and, of course, St Patrick. But there is an enormous database of little-known saints that I'm guessing the bulk of humanity has never even heard of.

We're getting pretty close to having a Saint from our lifetime too - Mother Theresa will soon be canonised by the Catholic Church. They're just trying to find another miracle she performed, and she'll be part of the 'in-crowd'. I'll save the Catholic church some time and effort right here, if they want. I think it's a miracle the sanctimonious old tart didn't get sprung accepting blood money from third-rate dictators of tinpot little nations like Haiti. Had the rest of the world known about her shady dealings trying to wash clean the souls of murderers and thieves, she'd be about as popular as Nixon.

But I digress.

The best of the Saints are to be found in the Patron Saints list. Nearly every calamity and malady known to humankind has a saint to look after it. What a job for the afterlife! To be made a saint, a person would have had to spend an awful lot of their life being pious and rigid, and then perform a couple of miracles (which aren't nearly as easy as Jesus made them look). So, for all their hard work in this world, the poor buggers get to spend eternity pondering the fate of us mere mortals as we complain about broken limbs, gassiness and the fact that we can't find our car keys on Monday mornings.

Some of their appointments make sense, in a cutesy, folksy sort of way; St Joseph, for instance, who famously trudged around Bethlehem trying to find a room during peak tourist season for his wife to give birth in, looks after house hunting. But others make little or no sense at all.

Take St Joseph of Cupertino. He died in 1663, and is currently the patron saint of astronauts. How in god's name is he supposed to know what he's doing? It's little wonder Columbia went bang... the patron saint in charge clearly has no idea what an astronaut is, let alone how to protect them.

The Patron Saint for Fear of the Lord is the Holy Ghost - which is kind of like handling a funnel-web to cure your fear of spiders. Sure... I'll take advice on my fear of God from an entity, which, if my rudimentary understanding of the Bible is correct, is really God when he's not feeling particularly substantial.

St Eloi looks after Numismatists (look it up - I had to). St Fiacre looks after haemorrhoids, while St Bibiana takes care of the hangovers. They've got John the Baptist looking after highways, freeways and spas. (Seriously - John the Baptist looks after all the hot tubs on the planet.) St John Nepomucene looks after discretion - which is apt, because I've never heard of him before. St George, who once famously killed a dragon, now gets to look after syphilis.

It's lunacy. There's a saint for everything these days, and there's more on the way. Even countries and cities and states have patron saints. New York, New Zealand and Australia are all looked after by Our Lady Help of Christians. One can only assume that she was on the Gold Coast working on her tan when the whole 9/11 thing went down.

It's easy to tell when the church is really, really worried about something as well. They'll assign multiple saints to look after it. Sexual temptation is guarded by no less then eight saints and, tellingly, victims of abuse get ten saints - guilty conscience, anyone?

But back to St Valentine, and the day in his honour. I admit that I eventually caved and bought my girlfriend the lot - flowers, chocolates and a card. However, I did so not for fear of ending up under the guidance of Saints Aldegundis, Andrew Avellino, Barbara and Christopher - the patron saints of sudden death - but because I love her a lot.

What do you think, did we get it right? Comment here...