Special devotions to saints are very common for us Catholics. We usually pick a saint that appeals to us in a special way, or that we think might understand us, or that we identify ourselves with. In this way, we feel a closer connection with this saint when we ask for his or her intercession in trying times.
But have you ever felt the reverse? That it was not you who chose the saint, but the saint who chose you? That you were followed by a saint you would not otherwise have considered for your devotion? That a saint “adopted” you and asks you to pray for his intercession?
We have heard of many people who experienced something similar. But we have also felt this throughout our relationship. For example, Pedro’s appetite for studying and theology always drew him to the Dominican order and, therefore, to saints like Dominic or Aquinas.
Yet, for all the rivalries between Dominicans and Franciscans, the saint that ended up adopting us was St. Francis of Assisi. We don’t know why. But it started during our honeymoon in Rome, when we decided, on a spur of the moment, to visit Assisi (roughly 3-hour trip from the Eternal City) and the graves of St. Francis and of Claire’s namesake. It was an incredible experience and we felt bonded with these extraordinary saints.
During the same honeymoon, another spur of the moment led us to go to Padua in Italy and visit the grave of yet another great Franciscan saint — St. Antony. Since St. Antony was born in Lisbon, and is particularly recurrent in Portuguese altars, we have found his presence several steps of the way since we moved to Portugal. We even went to Lisbon to visit the church built on the place where St. Anthony was born.
Since then, we have “tripped” on several Franciscan saints who, in attention to their founder, seem to have a particular fondness for us. But the most striking example is St. Padre Pio, a Capuchin monk.
For some strange reason, we always found that Padre Pio was there to bless our relationship. We remember struggling with the bureaucracies of our marriage preparations and praying at a Padre Pio chapel in Manila during some of Pedro’s visits to the Philippines. We even went to visit Padre Pio’s National Shrine in Batangas.
Only recently did we notice an amazing coincidence, something that happened in a completely unintentional way. We found out that we got married on Padre Pio’s birthday, and that Pedro proposed on the anniversary of Padre Pio’s death!
Padre Pio did say on his deathbed that his true mission would start once he was in heaven, for then he would be in a better position to aid souls in need of help. We feel truly honored to know that a saint with such a powerful intercession has decided to help us throughout our life and marriage journey, even if we don’t know why he made such a decision.
Having a saint choose us is truly an incredible experience. We certainly relinquish some control in our prayers, since we are praying for the intercession of someone we might not feel particularly inclined to. But in the end, we end up knowing that it’s the right person for the job, and it increases our supernatural outlook on life. In the end, we become so familiarized with these saints, we end up cultivating a devotion towards them, so natural as if we were the ones who had decided to choose them from the very beginning.
What about you? Do you have a saint you feel has adopted you?