St. Dominic

The white marble statue of St. Dominic (August 8, 1170 – August 6, 1221) in the Calvary Cemetery in Erie, Pennsylvania, portrays a prayerful monk holding a book in one hand with the word “VERITAS” carved on the front and holding a cross in the other.  The statue also displays the Rosary, which St. Dominic helped to popularize through his preaching.

St. Dominic is the Patron Saint of astronomers.

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St. Benedict

Calvary Cemetery, Erie, Pennsylvania

Benedict of Nursia was a devout Christian born circa March 2, 480 and died between 543 to 547.  Spurred by what Benedict saw as increasing immorality of Roman life, he retreated to life as a monk in a cave near the town of Subiaco.  His seriousness and zeal attracted followers and eventually spread.  Eventually he established 12 communities of monks in Italy.

Benedict is most remembered, however, for a book that he wrote as a guide for monks and how they should live their lives called the Rule of Saint Benedict.  The short book is 73 chapters long divided in to two main parts—how to live a life devoted to God and how to manage a monastery.  Benedict even suggests that the day be divided into three equal parts; eight hours for sleeping, eight hours of manual work, and lastly, eight hours devoted to charitable works and reading sacred works.  Eventually his book was used as a model for monastic life throughout Europe.

Benedict was canonized in 1220 in Rome by Pope Honorius III.  St. Benedict is usually depicted in monk’s clothing and cowl holding a crosier or rod.  St. Benedict is the Patron Saint of farm workers, carvers, civil engineers, coppersmiths, spelunkers, schoolchildren, and monks.

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St. Andrew

According to Christian tradition, St. Andrew, like his brother Peter, was born in Bethsaida near the Sea of Galilee, and was also a fisherman, called by Jesus to be a “fisher of men.”  The sculpture of St. Andrew in the columbarium in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, depicts St. Andrew holding a cross saltire, which is an x-shaped cross, also known as crux decussata.  Because the saltire has become so closely associated with St. Andrew it is most commonly known as St. Andrew’s cross.

Early accounts of St. Andrew’s crucifixion describe him tied to a Latin cross, though by the Middle Ages, he is said to have been crucified on the crux decussata.  As Peter did not want to be crucified as Christ had been, tradition tells us St. Andrew requested a different mode, as well, the x-shaped cross, the very cross that has become the symbol of St. Andrew.

In 832, on the eve of a battle in East Lothian, in what is now Scotland, Oengus was leading an outnumbered band of Picts and Scots against a force of Angles.  Oengus prayed for divine intervention.  Oengus vowed if his forces could achieve a victory he would promise to make St. Andrew the Patron Saint of the Scots.  Oengus waited for a sign as the dawn rose the next morning.  In the morning sky he saw clouds gather and form a white saltire.  The battle ensued and though outnumbered, Oengus and his troops were victorious.

According to legend, Oengus was good to his word, not only is St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland but a white St. Andrew’s cross on a sky-blue background makes the Scottish flag, reminiscent of what Oengus saw that victorious morning.

St. Andrew’s feast Day is November 30.  He is the Patron Saint of fishermen, fishmongers, textile workers, miners, singers, pregnant women, butchers, rope-makers, and butchers.

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St. Peter and the Keys to Heaven

St. Peter, depicted in a statue in the columbarium in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, holds a pair of keys.  The keys are a symbol used to represent the saint and have their origins in scripture, specifically in the book of St. Matthew, King James Bible Chapter 16: verses 16-19:

16:  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17:  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18:  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19:  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

And it was so, the Lord built His church on St. Peter with St. Peter becoming the very first pope.  In art St. Peter is often shown standing in front of the gates of heaven.  In addition to keys as a symbol for St. Peter, an inverted cross is also used to represent the apostle.  According to the historian Eusebius, St. Peter was crucified upside down because he did not think he was worthy enough to be crucified in the same way as Jesus Christ.  According to tradition, St. Peter bound to a cross upside down, preached the word for two days until he died.

St. Peter was a simple fisherman born in Bethsaida near the Sea of Galilee.  Christ said that St. Peter would be a “fisherman of men.”  St. Peter’s feast day is June 29, shared with the apostle Paul.  St. Peter is the patron saint of fishermen, shipwrights, and stonemasons.

Mosaic from the columbarium in the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona

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St. Simon the Zealot

St. Simon the Zealot is one of the most obscure of all of the Apostles.  Little is known about him though it is thought that he was born in Judea.  In the Christian tradition, St. Simon is often considered part of an evangelizing team along with St. Jude.  In fact, they share the same feast day—October 28th.  Where the two actually preached the word is not certain—some believe it was Persia, Armenia, or Lebanon, while others believe they proselytized in the Middle East and Africa.  As debated is what eventually happened to St. Simon.  One tradition says that he was crucified in Persia, another makes the claim he died in his sleep peacefully, while another theory says he was martyred by being sawed in half—lengthwise.

The statue of him in columbarium in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, depicts St. Simon with a saw, the symbol he is associated with because of his gruesome method of martyrdom.  St. Simon is the patron saint of curriers, tanners, and, ironically, sawyers.  A sawyer is defined as “one who saws.”

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St. Matthew–the Tax Man

St. Matthew, in this statue found in the Evergreen Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, is depicted with a quill and a scroll representing his authorship of the First Gospel.  The statue of St. Matthew also has a small winged figure by his side in this sculpture.  This figure is often thought to be an angel but instead represents all humankind and the possibility that everyone has for divine inspiration.

In the mosaic from the columbarium in the St. Francis Catholic Cemetery in Phoenix, St. Matthew is depicted only as a winged man.  The symbols for the Four Evangelists are mentioned in the King James version of the Bible, Revelation 4:7, “The first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”  When the Evangelists are shown together, they are often only depicted with those symbols.

St. Matthew’s feast day is September 21st.  St. Matthew was a Jewish tax collector, which then as now, was a profession that was disliked by most.  It is also the most likely the reason he is the patron saint of tax collectors.  St. Matthew is also the patron saint of bankers, accountants, stockbrokers, and customs officials.

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St. Luke

St. Luke, in this statue found in the Evergreen Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, is depicted with a quill and a scroll representing his authorship of the Third Gospel, which emphasizes the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.  The statue of St. Luke also has an ox by his side in this sculpture.  The ox, an expensive animal, was sometimes used as a sacrifice.  The wings on the ox represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ which has traveled throughout the world.

In the mosaic from the columbarium in the St. Francis Catholic Cemetery in Phoenix, St. Luke is depicted only as a winged ox.  When the Evangelists are shown together, they are often only depicted with the symbols by which they are represented.

St. Luke’s feast day is October 18th.  He is the patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, butchers, farmers, bachelors, and picture makers.

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