At this time of year, the focus of the world seems to be on ghosts, ghouls, vampires and candy. Halloween has become a multi-million dollar business. However, most people forget that November 1st is actually All Saint’s Day, when all saints are revered for their part in helping those on earth.
Did you realize that there was a patron saint for accountants?
The patron saint of accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, security guards and tax collectors is Saint Matthew of Apostle fame, and he also was the author of one of the Gospels. Before becoming an Apostle, however, he started out as a Jewish tax collector at Capernaum. Little is know about him, outside the seven references he has in the Gospels. In medieval art, Saint Matthew is represented under the symbol of a winged man, carrying in his hand a lance as a characteristic emblem - his artistic calling card if you will. He is one of the originals in the pantheon of patron saints.
Reverence for Patron Saints is something that seems like a practice from another time. It was started in the 3rd century and patron saints were a booming business in the 17th century. Some say that Patron Saints often replaced the old Goddess religions local divinity in a new and Christianized form. Whatever the reason, the patron saint roster has grown over time.
Most of the Patron Saints recognized by popular culture are known for their more jovial sides. Saint Patrick has a whole day that is given to him on a typical calendar. Technically, he is the patron saint of Ireland and all things Irish. For some, St. Pat’s Day may seem more like a day to indulge in a great deal of green beer, instead. Saint Christopher is generally thought of as the patron saint of travelers and Saint Christopher medallions are often in view on dashboards, not only of the faithful, but ordinary folk who hope a lucky talisman will protect them.
The purpose of a patron saint is to intercede at times of trouble, overwork and difficulty. A patron saint has special affinity for the members of a particular group, either designated by nationality, ailments, illness, dangers, activities or career path. Prayers by such people are considered more likely to be answered by their particular patron saint.
A patron is one who has been assigned by a venerable tradition, or chosen by election, as a special intercessor with God, and they must be fully canonized saints to acquire this lofty position.
Saint Agatha, for instance, is the patron saint of nurses and the process of bellmaking. An odd combination, but no less strange than the realm of Saint Isidore of Seville, who lived early 600 C.E. and is the patron saint of computers.
In day-to-day business, accountants are among the honored professions that value common sense and almost scientific reasoning when dealing with people, institutions and the numbers they guard. Fluffy subjects, like angels and divinity, are a far reach from the day-to-day work.
Isn’t it nice to know that all accountants have a patron saint who intercedes, not with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but a higher source? Maybe on one of those days, when nothing seems to add up and calling anyone seems to bring countless buttons pushing on your phone, you might smile and ponder for a moment on Saint Matthew, Patron Saint of Accounting.