Filipinos are also devout followers of saints. Many show their faith in their devotion to certain saints. For example, St Jude is visited by devotees every Thursday to ask for intercession from the beloved saint. The monastery of Santa Clara is often visited by followers with a tray of eggs, believed to bring fair weather and stop the rain.
Indeed, the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation. When the Spaniards arrived in 1521, they brought Christianity to the islands and converted many Filipinos to the Catholic faith. Since then, we have grown to be one of the nations with the greatest number of Catholics. In an article by the Rome Reports, the Philippines ranks the third in the world next to Brazil and Mexico, while first in Asia. An astounding 81% of Filipinos are Catholic- one of the highest percentages in the world.
Saints show us the way to holiness. They have dedicated their lives to God and have exhibited great faith in the most difficult and impossible situations. Their lives inspire us to live by faith and share the love of Christ. According to Pope Francis, saints are “examples to imitate.” These holy men and women set an example on how we can follow the will of God is as simple as helping our dear brothers and sisters.
In the list below, we gather the top ten most popular saints across the Philippines. The country has produced so far two saints who have been recognized by the Vatican. They are St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino Saint, and St. Pedro Calungsod who was canonized in 2012. Apart from them, many other saints are well-loved by Filipinos including St. Padre Pio, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Philomena, etc.
Most Known Saints in the Philippines
Get to know more about the top favorite saints of Filipinos in the list below.
1. St Philomena
Patron of infants, babies, and youth, Patroness of the Living Rosary
Feast Day on August 11
St. Philomena is the Patroness and Protectress of the Living Rosary. She is a virgin, martyr, and wonder-worker. Her tomb was discovered in Rome in 1802 where she died as a virgin martyr at the age of 13. The name “Philomena” means daughter of light. Philomena was a Greek princess who traveled to Rome due to war.
Upon seeing Philomena for the first time, Emperor Diocletian had asked for her hand in marriage which she declined because she vowed chastity to God. She has offered her virginity to the Lord at a very young age. Even with the pleas of her parents, Philomena stood firm to her promise to the Lord saying, “My virginity, which I have vowed to God, comes before everything, before you, before my country.
My kingdom is heaven.” Emperor Diocletian tortured her several times using an arrow and an anchor to throw her into the water, but Mary and the angels came to heal the child. She was beheaded in the end. St. Philomena was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837. He called her the “Thaumaturga,” the “Great Wonder-Worker of the nineteenth century.”
2. St Lorenzo Ruiz
Patron Saint of Migrants
Feast Day on September 28
Known as the first Filipino saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz died as a martyr in Nagasaki, Japan where he and his priest companions were tortured. Lorenzo hailed from Tondo, Manila with a Filipino mother and a Chinese father. As a young boy, he served as a sacristan or altar boy to the Dominicans.
He was married and with 3 kids. Lorenzo was accused of murder, prompting him to join the Dominican friars who were going to Japan despite the violent persecution of Christians. They were then arrested and tortured by letting them drink big volumes of water and then stepped on in the belly.
Several other tortures were made, but the last one was being hanged upside down in pits. Lorenzo’s last words before his death were, “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God. Had I had a thousand lives, all these to Him I shall offer. Do with me as you please.” He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987 together with his companions.
3. St. Pedro Calungsod
Patron Saint of Filipino youth
Feast Day on April 2
St. Pedro Calungsod is the second Filipino to be named as a saint. He died as a martyr at the young age of 17. Educated by the Jesuits in the Visayas, he served as a sacristan or altar server and a teacher of catechism to the Chamorros in the Northern Marianas Islands.
Together with Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, they were able to baptize many natives to Christianity. When a false rumor spread about them putting poison in the water for baptism, they were killed after baptizing the daughter of the village chief.
Pedro had the chance to escape but did not want to leave his companion. In 2000, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II and was declared a saint twelve years later in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
4. St. Joseph
Patron Saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, and workers
Feast Day on March 19
St. Joseph is Jesus’ father on earth and Mary’s husband. He is greatly known as an intercessor of myriad cases including families, fathers, soon-to-be mothers, travelers, workers, craftsmen, etc. When he knew Mary was with child, an angel appeared to Him to tell that it was the Son of God.
He married Mary and helped raised Jesus. Coming from the lineage of David, Joseph worked as a carpenter. He was declared patron of the Universal Church in 1870 by Pope Pius IX. Pope Pius XII meanwhile declared May 1 as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker which is also the International Worker’s Day.
5. St. Francis of Assisi
Patron Saint of Animals, Merchants & Ecology
Feast Day on October 4
St. Francis, born in Assisi, Italy is the founder of the Franciscan Order. He also founded the women’s Order of St. Clare and the lay Third Order. In his youth, Francis was a leader of young men and women who indulged in vices. He took part in a war between Assisi and Perugia where he has detained a prisoner for almost a year.
He returned afterward seriously ill. He was on his way to join the papal forces to fight against Frederick II in Apulia when he had a dream about Jesus one night. That made his return to Assisi and forget about his knighthood.
On his return, he turned to solitude and prayer to listen to the will of God. His conversion was marked with several accounts including his experience of poverty in Rome, kissed the hand of a leper, and perhaps the most important was when he heard the crucifix say to fix His church. Francis came to his father’s shop to get some clothes and a horse to help rebuild the old church. This angered his father and so he was brought before the bishop.
There he peeled off his clothes and returned his garments to his father. He said, “Until now I have called you my father on earth. But henceforth I can truly say Our Father who art in heaven.” He then lived a life of poverty and began preaching to people. In 1210, founded the Franciscan order. He died of an illness that made him blind.
6. St. Jude
Patron Saint of Hope and Impossible Causes
Feast Day on October 28
St. Jude was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and the brother of St. James. He is a widely popular saint even saints of the church were devoted to him. He was a close companion of Jesus and was believed to be His cousin.
Together, they traveled and entered synagogues to preach about the reign of God. He was passionate about preaching the Gospel even in the most difficult places. Images of St. Jude are often depicted with him carrying the face of Jesus in his hands. This tells us the miracle of Edessa where King Abagar asked Jesus to heal him of his leprosy. He sent an artist to draw Jesus.
Jesus pressed his face to a cloth leaving his image on it and gave it to St. Jude. The cloth then healed the King. After Jesus’ passing, St. Jude continued preaching and traveled to Mesopotamia, Libya, Persia to help build the Church. He died later on as a martyr.
7. St. Anthony de Padua
Patron Saint of Lost Things
Feast Day on June 13
St. Anthony, whose real name was Fernando Martins, was born in a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal. At the age of 15, he asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz where he would learn Latin and Theology. When he was ordained as a priest, he joined a band of Franciscan friars to leave the Abbey.
He joined the new Franciscan Order and changed his name to Anthony. He traveled to many different places but got sick so he was asked to return home. Anthony also became friends with another popular saint, St. Francis of Assisi who heard of Anthony’s eloquence in preaching the gospel.
He was then entrusted to teach to the friars. One day, a novice who left the order took his book psalms. Anthony prayed for the book to be found. Not only the book was found, but the thief also returned it and came back to the order. Another great story of his eloquent preaching was when the heretics refused to listen to him and so he went out and preached to the fish.
When they saw the fishes started to gather, the heretics soon listened to him. He died when he was 35 and was proclaimed as a saint a year in less than a year by Pope Gregory IX. In 1946, Pope Pius XII declared him a Doctor of the Universal Church.
8. St. Roch
Patron Saint against diseases, healer of contagions, Patron Saint of Dogs
Feast Day on August 16
St. Roch was born in Montpellier, France as an only child to noble parents. When his parents died, he renounced all their wealth and lived in poverty. He set on a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the tomb of the Apostles but during that time, Italy was besieged with a plague. He volunteered to assist in the hospital and visit the sick.
Roch himself became invalid and suffered pain. He was abandoned by people except for God who helped him heal. He set foot back in his native city but nobody recognized him in Montpellier.
He was detained in a dungeon for five years after being thought of as a spy. He died almost at the same time when he was freed. Miraculous events happened after his death including the cure of sickness upon invocation of his name. When a plague broke in Constance in 1414, his image was carried in procession and then the plague vanished at once.
9. St. Padre Pio
Patron Saint of pain, suffering, and healing, civil defense workers, adolescents, and stress-relief
Feast Day on September 23
Born as Francesco Forgione in Italy, he changed his name to Pio when he entered the order at age 19. One day when he was kneeling before a crucifix, he received the visible marks of the crucifixion or the stigmata.
When he died in 1968, his wounds disappeared as he has predicted 50 years before his death. No medical cause was found. He is one of the people in the history of the Catholic Church who signed with the stigmata. Thousands of pilgrims visited him when the word began to spread.
When he died, multitudes of people gathered to attend his funeral. His miracle to a young boy sick with meningitis who was healed after seeing Padre Pio in his coma was approved by Pope John Paul II. In 2002, he has proclaimed a saint in front of thousands of pilgrims in Rome.
10. St. Benedict
Patron Saint of Europe, Kidney Disease, Monastics, Poisoning, Schoolchildren
Feast Day on July 11
Benedict was born in a noble family in Italy. Early in his life, he was drawn to monasticism, where he became a hermit. When he realized he could not live a hidden life, he went up the mountains to gather monks. As their leader, he gathered them to establish a “Grand Monastery” to unite them and permanently worship under one house. This was the beginning of one of the most famous monasteries in the world, Monte Cassino.
Benedict prescribed life of prayer, study, labor, and living together in a community. He also performed many miracles. Monasticism in the West eventually adopted the Rule of St. Benedict during the Middle Ages.
He foresaw his coming death- he had the grave of his deceased sister St. Scholastica open. He died after taking his last communion. St. Benedict’s medal is widely used today. It serves as a protection against Satan and a prayer that the Cross of Christ be our light.
The list above shows the life of the ten most popular saints in the Philippines. In Luzon, many popular churches are named after these saints. You can find one of them in Batangas. The National Shrine of Padre Pio is found in the town of Sto. Tomas in Batangas. Many devotees visit the city to pray and give thanks to the beloved saint.
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