Soul Food Specialists

By Ian Makay

Published on August 10, 2009

Seeking divine intervention for assistance with baking bread? Special guidance for waiting tables? There are more than 100 saints watching over matters of food and drink. In honor of All Saints' Day, November 1, here are a few of our favorites:

St. Brigid Patron saint of bovines and dairy workers. Brigid transformed water into milk—then cured a leper with the result. This unassuming Irish cowherd apparently also had a penchant for stronger stuff, once envisioning paradise as "A great lake of ale... the family of heaven to be drinking it...."

St. Elizabeth Patron saint of bakers. A 13th-century queen of Hungary, Elizabeth showed compassion towards her starving German neighbors with a large donation of grain.

St. Martha Patron saint of cooks, waitpersons, and homemakers. Martha earned this honor because at one time Christ chided her for trying too hard to be the perfect hostess—rather than studying dutifully as her sister and brother (Mary Magdalene and Lazarus) did.

St. Martin of Tours Patron saint of geese. A hermit by nature, Martin reputedly hid from celebrating visitors by ducking into a gaggle of geese. His feast day, November 11, is celebrated throughout Europe with roast goose dinners. Martin is also the patron saint of vintners, barkeeps, and drunks—but that's another story.

St. Peter, St. Andrew Patron saints of fishermen. Brothers Peter and Andrew secured this position when Christ dubbed them "fishers of men". Peter is also said to have helped prepare the Last Supper.

St. Viviana Patron saint of alcoholics. This fourth-century A.D. Roman martyr is said to have imbibed a little too often herself. It was believed in some quarters that the plants growing around her grave provided an efficient hangover cure.

St. Wenceslaus Patron saint of brewers. Prince of Bohemia from 907 to 929, Wenceslaus celebrated Mass with wine from his own vineyards, and when he foresaw his own death, toasted St. Michael with it. But beer's more important in central Europe, so that's what he became associated with.

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