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Religious Person and His/Her Patron Saint
Saints are generally, in belief practices, accepted as models of virtue
and chastity, as God’s prophets or as protectors and helpers in all walks of human life. This latest form of worship is especially important in popular religiosity. In its’ framework, and on the level of personal worship, we can recognize usually one saint who is, according to one’s own personal standards, considered to be one’s own, one’s personal protector.
St. Anthony of Padua is, next to the Mother of God, the most popular saint in Croatian regions. In personal religiosity discussed in this article, St. Anthony of Padua represents the central figure. This article is based on one detailed autobiographical account of a young man from Konavle (the place
of his origin), which is supplemented by the account from his mother who participated in the creation of his religiosity.
Several factors have influenced the choice of a personal saint in the
discussed religious practice, the most important of which was the event containing elements of miracle, which was then followed by a series of related events which confirmed and strengthened his choice. The miracle was here visible in the synchronicity of different events, and the informant recognized them as ‘signs’ linked to the personal patron saint. The patron saint has established his presence through these events and has, in the same time, confirmed his celestial status through his intervention (by performing miracles). On the basis of these signs, the informant justifies his relationship with the saint and emphasizes the importance and the power of the chosen saint.
Personal saint is constantly present in the life of this individual, and
this relationship intensifies in the period around the Saint’s Day. The most important sign of personal religiosity and communication with the saint is a vow which, for this particular individual, means much more than the procedure itself, to which a vow is commonly restricted to in literature. In this case, the vow also includes a period of spiritual preparation which starts roughly a month before the actual event, as well as the period after the event in which the informant contemplates the past and is filled with peace. The vow is established as a gratitude for the saint’s intervention during an unhappy event. The important part of the vow is the renunciation of a part of his everyday life which the informant considers to be the important part of his personality.
The research of belief in personal patron saints has also pointed to the importance of women in religiosity and religious issues in general, especially with relation to establishing or fulfilling vows for family members.
The chosen saint from this case study is one of the two most popular
saints in the community to which this informant belongs to. Saint’s Days of these two saints (St. Anthony of Padua and Mother of God) are marked by expressions of personal piety. However, none of these Saints is the titulary saint of the local church. Saint’s Day of St. Nicholas, the actual titulary saint, is important as the annual social gathering of the whole community, while its famous role as the protector of sailors and travelers has not been encountered in personal pieties. In these cases, people would also turn to their personal patron saint.
Generally speaking, personal patron saint is commonly present in the
life of believers. He is considered to be life chaperon and guardian. People communicate with him on a daily basis, and his help is sought on various occasions. Because of this variety of the occasions in which people seek patron saint’s aid, we can speak about the abandonment of the established differentiation of the saints according to their specific roles, at least on the level of personal religiosity.
popular religiosity; patron saints; st. Anthony of Padua; the region of Konavle (southern Croatia)
Hrčak ID: 4948
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