Patrons Saints for the Divorced
The mother of Constantine, St. Helen (249-329)
found the True Cross in Jerusalem and, for many centuries, devotion to St.
Helen has been linked to devotion to the Holy Cross. But there is another,
sadder facet of Helen’s life. After 22 years of marriage, Helen’s husband,
Constantius, divorced her.Sources are also unsure as to the exact nature of their
relationship: some say it was a legal marriage, others a common-law marriage;
some say she was his wife, others his concubine. Whatever the specifics, the
two were in a relationship that produced an heir, Constantine, around the year
272 CE. They remained together for at least 15 years, but in 289 CE
Constantius, who was Roman Emperor Caesar, divorced Helena to enter into a
politically advantageous marriage with a younger woman, Theodora, who was the
stepdaugher of Maximian, Roman Emperor Augustus at the time. Today, as civil divorce becomes more
prevalent, St. Helen is offered to unhappy spouses as a heavenly patron who can
truly sympathize with their anguish and offer prayers and on their behalf. St Helen, pray for us!
He was King of Orleans and Burgundy in 561 and had married a woman named Mercatrude, which means Peacemaker. He later divorced her for another woman. Later, when she fell seriously ill, and her doctor could not cure her, King Guntramnus had her doctor murdered. Eventually he converted to Catholicism and felt deep remorse for his past life.
recognized the Lord had been merciful him, so he in turn was merciful to
others. Even those who tried to assassinate him were only imprisoned and not
killed as others might have done. One man, who attempted to stab the king, took
refuge in a church and Guntramnus let him go free. He was fair to everyone and
treated his subjects as his own family. He spent much time in prayer and
fasting, and built several churches and monasteries. St. Gregory of Tours writes
that he was an eyewitness to miracles performed by St. Guntramnus. On March 28,
in the year 592, King Guntramnus died at the age of sixty-eight. In the
sixteenth century, Huguenots scattered his ashes, but his skull remained
untouched and is kept in a silver box in St. Marcellus Church. Guntramnus is
the patron saint of divorced people, guardians, and repentant murderers. He is
usually depicted in art as a king with three treasure chests, one of which has
a globe and a cross on it. St. Guntramnus, pray for us!
St. Eugene de Mazenod
Eugene de Mazenod was a member of the
French nobility. His mother, Marie-Rose, was convent educated and
wealthy. Charles-Antoine, his father, was an aristocrat, educated in the
classics but poor. A serious factor in the marriage was the constant interference
from Marie-Rose's jealous mother and neurotic sister. When she wed
Charles-Antoine, Marie-Rose's family stipulated that the dowry given by them
remain in her name.
In 1791, during the French
Revolution, the de Mazenod family was forced into exile in Italy to avoid the
guillotine. In 1795, leaving her husband and son behind in Venice, Marie-Rose
returned to France with Eugene's sister. Once back home, she divorced Eugene's
father, took back her maiden name and aided by her mother's shrewdness,
successfully recovered her dowry. She later wrote to her ex-husband saying
"You now have nothing."
After eleven years in exile, Eugene
returned to Aix at his mother's request, where he struggled to reunite his
family. He also endeavoured to regain the family's holdings which had been lost
during the revolution.
In 1808 Eugene entered the seminary in
Paris, worked diligently with the poor, and eventually became Bishop of Marseilles, France, in 1837 and his influence extended
not only locally but throughout the world. Before his death, the order of
priests he founded, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, (over 400 men) had spread
to ten countries throughout the world.
De Mazenod died as Archbishop of
Marseilles on 21st May 1861 and his tomb is located in the chapel of that
city's cathedral. When he died his heart was removed and preserved - a custom
not uncommon in the 19th Century. A portion of the preserved heart was placed
in a reliquary and taken to the United States in 1964. The re-gilded reliquary
was then enshrined in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the Oblate-owned
"Lourdes Grotto of the Southwest" in San Antonio, Texas. He was canonized in 1995 by Pope
John Paul II. St. Eugene, pray for us!