“Personally, I like to start with the patron saint of whatever it is...
The patron saint of this story is St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), because it all sort of started with a robbery and the first saintish thing he ever did was a robbery. He stole some cloth from his father and gave it to the poor. There is a patron saint of actual robbers—Dismas (first century)—but I'm not an actual robber. I was only trying to be good.”
--from Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce (a.k.a. One of the best middle grade novels ever written)
Even after reading the brilliant story that the line above is taken from, I never really thought about my stories having patron saints. I'm not sure why. Like Damian from Millions, saints were part of my everyday life growing up, and still are. I still annoy St. Anthony with the little “Look around” poem until he helps me find what I'm looking for. I pray for St. Lucy's intercession when my eyes hurt and for St. Lawrence's when I get burned. (I don't pray to him when I'm cooking, because somehow that seems a little insensitive.)
But my books have been on their own. (A pretty prideful thing on my part, now that I think of it.)
Until a few days ago. I've been working on my French Revolution story, about a young girl from France, who is a skilled horsewoman, who dreams of things greater than the life set ahead of her, and who—of course—rides in to save the day at the end. (Here's a spoiler for you—the day will always be saved at the ends of my books. I will never, ever write an unhappy ending.) I want the book to explore the idea of what nobility is, finding truly noble persons in unlikely places.
Now, my MC, Juliette, lives in the tail end of the eighteenth century. But for some reason, ever since I started writing the story, a girl from a few hundred years before kept popping up all over the place in my life: St. Joan of Arc. Nothing against St. Joan, but I never thought of her very often. All of a sudden, though, I see paintings of her all over, a friend asks me if I've read a book about her, she's mentioned in random conversations with me.
She had to kind of hit me over the head until I realized, “Oh, wow. I think St. Joan of Arc wants to be the patron saint of my book.” She's French. Rode a horse. Kicked butt. And if anyone could tell you about nobility having little to do with your bloodline, it was she.
So it's official. I printed out pictures of those random paintings of St. Joan and pinned them up on my inspiration board. And every morning I start my writing with a quick prayer, that she'll keep on praying for the grace I need while I write. It's really nice to have a partner.
What about you? Have you ever entrusted your writing to a certain saint? If you're looking for ideas, here's a list—you'll be surprised by what you find...and by the sense of humor whoever came up with these things had.
Or if you're looking for a patron of writing in general, here are a few to get you started:
St. John the Evangelist—for obvious reasons.
St. Lucy—I don't think St. Lucy ever wrote much, so I think the fact that she was made patron of writers has something to do with her name meaning “light,” as in, “illumination,” the goal of all great writing. Or someone thought that writers would get a kick out of the way she's portrayed in art by carrying her poked-out eyeballs in a cup. I mean, if Stephen King prayed to someone, it would be her.
And then there's my favorite not-officially-named-patron: Blessed John Paul II. Before (well, and after) he became a priest and the Pope, he was a writer, poet, and playwright (actor, too!). A saint who wrote fiction is hard to come by, so I say we snatch him up to intercede for us.