Female Patron Saint of Autism
One of the most challenging aspects of autism spectrum disorder is a sense of isolation. It’s a kind of spiritual starvation that can make it hard for people with autism to connect with God and others.
Aimee Martin stumbled upon a female patron saint who possessed some of the traits that characterize autism. She is committed to spreading the news about St. Leonie and her work as a prayer support for autistic children and their families.
Saint Dymphna was a beautiful Irish princess from the 7th century. She was the daughter of a pagan king named Damon and his Christian wife, and she was extremely fond of Jesus and Mary. She was baptized at an early age and took a vow of chastity. Her father was very upset when her mother died, and he decided to try and find a new bride for his daughter. However, he only wanted to marry her if she was as beautiful as his dead queen. Dymphna spurned his advances, and he sent her into exile. She eventually ended up in Belgium.
When she arrived in Belgium, she began helping the poor and sick people there. She also founded a hospital for those with mental illnesses. Over the years, many pilgrims came to her church to ask for healing of their emotional and mental issues. Because of her work and the miracles that occurred at her church, she was named the patron saint of those with mental illnesses.
Her feast day is May 15, and she shares it with her confessor, St. Gerebernus. She is the patron saint of those with psychiatric disorders, those who have had incest and rape victims, and those who are runaway children.
Most depictions of her show her wearing a crown and dressed in royal robes, with her sword restrained at her feet. In her younger, more recent images, she is shown with a Bible in her hand and white lilies as symbols of purity. The shamrock on the Bible indicates her Irish origins, and she is sometimes shown with a Celtic harp as well.
The sarcophagus in which her body was found is in the Church of St. Dymphna in Geel, Belgium. It has been reported that those who visit her tomb and ask for her help with their emotional and mental issues are healed of them. In addition, she is a very popular saint for those who have had incest and a sex offender as their spouse. Her prayer is that God will keep them from having any recurrences.
St. Leonie Martin
There weren’t any experts on autism spectrum disorder back in the late 1800s when Leonie Martin was living, but it’s now thought that the youngest sister of Saint Therese of Lisieux suffered from her own form of the condition. Leonie was an extremely headstrong and sensitive young woman who struggled to fit into her family’s expectations and world. She was called “poor Leonie” by her mother for her troubles, but she fought to please God and be the best sister she could be.
Born at Alencon in northern France to Louis and Zelie Martin, Leonie was one of five daughters. Her sisters Celine and Therese were already Carmelite nuns, and Leonie wanted to become one too. She entered religious life on four separate occasions, but it wasn’t until she met her illustrious older sister and became an early disciple of Therese’s Little Way that she was able to persevere in her vocation.
The two sister’s frequent letters helped Leonie to understand and follow Therese’s path, and she made her First Communion in 1875. She also worked with her sisters to help the poor and wrote letters to her mother that were filled with wisdom. Unfortunately, she died from tuberculosis in 1897.
In the years after her death, many people began to pray to Leonie for family and relationship healing, hope through struggles, and acceptance of others. Today, Leonie is a well-known patron saint for many different needs, and her cause for canonization is moving forward.
While the story of St. Therese is known worldwide, it’s important to remember that her siblings were also saintly in their own right. Servant of God Leonie Martin is an example for those who have difficulty fitting in with their family, or in their community, and whose struggles may be less visible to others. It isn’t unusual for those with autism to have trouble finding and keeping employment or relationships, and Leonie’s story can give us hope that we can overcome these challenges. Her intercession is often sought for job opportunities, and for those who are struggling in their work and studies.
St. Joseph of Cupertino
Joseph was born in the small town of Cupertino in Italy in 1603. His early life was not very auspicious. He was forgetful and clumsy, and fellow Christians did not accept him as one of them. His house was seized by bailiffs and what little he did earn seemed to slip through his fingers. By the time he was 17 he decided to become a monk or friar. He knocked on many doors, and was finally accepted by a Franciscan Order. He was sent to serve as a stable boy, but over time his humble and lighthearted ways impressed the friars so much that they began to trust him with other tasks.
It was at this point that the ecstatic visions and levitations he experienced began to take hold. He was often seen floating in the air during Mass or a prayer session at his friary. Once he was a deacon and then a priest, his levitations and ecstatic experiences became more frequent.
As with the other saints mentioned, it is difficult to understand the gifts that God bestowed on St. Joseph of Cupertino and the mystical union he had with God. He would see the divine in all that he did, and everything he saw only drew him deeper into his relationship with God. He would spend days lost in wonder and ecstasy.
He was also known for performing miraculous cures, especially on the sick and disabled. He was a man that was completely in love with God and His creation. He was the patron saint of aviation and astronauts as well as a mystic, and is now recognized as a Saint by the Catholic Church. He is also the patron saint of test taking, mental handicaps and flying things (including airplanes). Pray to him for success in your next examination!
St. Thorlakur Thorhallsson
Born in 1133 at Hlidarendi, see of Skalholt, in southern Iceland, Thorlakur was ordained as a deacon before the age of fifteen and a priest at eighteen. After studying in Paris (c. 1153-59) and possibly Lincoln, he returned to Iceland to establish a monastery of Canons Regular at Thykkviber. He led a strictly religious life, refusing to marry and reciting fifty Psalms each day. He was consecrated bishop by Augustine of Nidaros and worked to regulate the Augustinian Rule in Iceland and eradicate simony, lay patronage, and clerical incontinency. He was the author of a number of miracles and is considered a patron saint of Iceland.
Every 23 December, Iceland celebrates Thorlaksmessa, the feast of St. Thorlak, sixth bishop of Skalholt and patron saint of the island nation. Because it falls so close to Christmas, the holiday has become known as the last day of preparations and is celebrated with kaest skata, a pungent dinner of buried and fermented skate served with potatoes and a shot of Brennivin. In 2018, a novena in honor of St. Thorlakur was approved by the Archbishop of Reykjavik, reconnecting Catholics with their roots on this feast.