St. Catherine and the Holy Helpers
You heard of the Magnificent Seven, the Fantastic Four, The Gruesome Twosome, The Fearsome Foursome, The Avengers, The Justice League, The Dream Team and of course The Holy Trinity, but what about the 14 Holy Helpers? Saint George, Saint Blasé, Saint Erasmus, Saint Pantaleon, Saint Vitus, Saint Christopher, Saint Denis, Saint Cyriacus, Saint Acacius, Saint Eustace, Saint Giles, Saint Margaret of Antioch, Saint Barbara and Saint Catherine of Alexandria make up the 14 Holy Helpers. I just learned about the 14 Holy Helpers while reading about Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Today is her feast day, and what an amazing woman. She might be the spiritual “Wonder Woman” of the group! She lived in the fourth century and was quite learned. Saint Catherine converted to Catholicism at the age of eighteen and then preached the Gospel throughout Alexandria, Egypt. During a persecution led by Magnus Maximus she was imprisoned. While in prison, Saint Catherine converted both the empress and the leader of the armed forces. This led to her martyrdom. Originally, she was to be placed upon a spiked wheel which is known as the Catherine Wheel. However, the wheel miraculously broke when she was placed on it. There is a legend that after she was executed her body was carried by angels to Mount Sinai. Saint Catherine of Alexandria is the patroness of attorneys, philosophers, preachers, teachers, students and librarians. Saint Joan of Arc is thought to have heard her voice.
As mentioned, Saint Catherine of Alexandria is part of the team of the 14 Holy Helpers. The Holy Helpers are highly regarded as a powerful group of intercessors to invoke in times of great need. Germans started invoking these saints collectively as a group during the Black Plague that devastated Europe in the 14th century. These saints were chosen based on their patronage. If you read about them, you will notice that many of them are known for their prayers for healing the body of diseases and avoidance of natural disasters. For example, Saint Blasé is invoked against diseases of the throat and Saint Vitus is invoked against paralysis, nervous diseases, and epilepsy, and Saint Eustace is invoked against fires. The prayers of the 14 Holy Helpers can bring about total protection for mind, spirit and body. In some places the 14 Holy Helpers are lovingly remembered on August 8th. Here in the United States we remember Saint Dominic on the 8th. Just as in the comic books and movies, the Avengers, a group of superheroes, are called upon to save the universe, the 14 Holy Helpers are called upon in real life to intercede for us in times of trouble. 14 Holy Helpers, pray for us! God bless, and may the prayers of the 14 Holy Helpers keep us safe.
Fr. Steve Breck
Pastor, St. Mary Magdalene