Gauchito Gil (left) and San La Muerte (right), two examples of Argentine folk saints

Folk saints are dead people or other spiritually powerful entities (such as indigenous spirits) venerated as saints, but not officially canonized. Since they are saints of the "folk", or the populus, they are also called popular saints. Like officially recognized saints, folk saints are considered intercessors with God, but many are also understood to act directly in the lives of their devotees.

Frequently, their actions in life as well as in death distinguish folk saints from their canonized counterparts: official doctrine would consider many of them sinners and false idols. Their ranks are filled by folk healers, indigenous spirits, and folk heroes. Folk saints occur throughout the Catholic world, and they are especially popular in Latin America, where most have small followings; a few are celebrated at the national or even international level.


In the pre-Christian Abrahamic tradition, the prophets and holy people who were honored with shrines were identified by popular acclaim rather than official designation. In fact, the Islamic counterparts of the Christian saints, associated most closely with Sufism, are still identified this way.[1] Early Christians followed in the same tradition when they visited the shrines of martyrs to ask for intercession with God.

Thus, there is a long tradition for the veneration of unofficial saints, and modern folk saints continue to reach popularity in much the same way as ever. Tales of miracles or good works performed during the person's life are spread by word of mouth, and, according to anthropologist Octavio Ignacio Romano, "if exceptional fame is achieved, it may happen that after his [or her] death the same cycle of stories told during life will continue to be repeated."[2] Popularity is likely to increase if new miracles continue to be reported after death. Hispanic studies professor Frank Graziano explains:

[M]any folk devotions begin through the clouding of the distinction between praying for and praying to a recently deceased person. If several family members and friends pray at someone's tomb, perhaps lighting candles and leaving offerings, their actions arouse the curiosity of others. Some give it a try—the for and the to begin intermingling—because the frequent visits to the tomb suggest that the soul of its occupant may be miraculous. As soon as miracles are announced, often by family members and friends, newcomers arrive to send up prayers, now to the miraculous soul, with the hope of having their requests granted.[3]

This initial rise to fame follows much the same trajectory as that of the official saints. Professor of Spanish Kathleen Ann Myers writes that Rose of Lima, the first canonized American saint, attracted "mass veneration beginning almost at the moment of the mystic's death." Crowds of people appeared at her funeral, where some even cut off pieces of her clothing to keep as relics. A lay religious movement quickly developed with Rosa de Lima at the center but she was not officially canonized until half of a century later.[4] In the meantime, she was essentially a folk saint.

As the Church spread, it became more influential in regions that celebrated deities and heroes that were not part of Catholic tradition. Many of those figures were incorporated into a local variety of Catholicism: the ranks of official saints then came to include a number of non-Catholics or even fictional persons. Church leaders made an effort in 1969 to purge such figures from the official list of saints, though at least some probably remain. Many folk saints have their origins in this same mixing of Catholic traditions and local cultural and religious traditions. To distinguish canonized saints from folk saints, the latter are sometimes called animas or "spirits" instead of saints.

Local character

Folk saints tend to come from the same communities as their followers. In death, they are said to continue as active members of their communities, remaining embedded within a system of reciprocity that reaches beyond the grave. Devotees offer prayers to the folk saints and present them with offerings, and folk saints repay the favors by dispensing small miracles. Many folk saints inhabit marginalized communities, the needs of which are more worldly than others; they therefore frequently act in a more worldly, more pragmatic, less dogmatic fashion than their official counterparts.[5] Devotion to folk saints, then, frequently takes on a distinctly local character, a result of the syncretic mixing of traditions and the particular needs of the community.

The contrast between the manner in which Latin American and European folk saints are said to intercede in the lives of their followers provides a good illustration. In Western Europe, writes anthropologist and religious historian William A. Christian, "the more pervasive influence of scientific medicine, the comparative stability of Western European governments and above all, the more effective presence of the institutional Church" have meant that unofficial holy people generally work within established doctrine. Latin American holy persons, on the other hand, often stray much further from official canon. Whereas European folk saints serve merely as messengers of the divine, their Latin American counterparts frequently act directly in the lives of their devotees.[6]

During the Counter-Reformation in Europe, the Council of Trent released a decree "On the Invocation, Veneration, and Relics, of Saints, and on Sacred Images," which explained that in Roman Catholic doctrine images and relics of the saints are to be used by worshipers to help them contemplate the saints and the virtues that they represent but that those images and relics do not actually embody the saints. In the same way, folk saints in Europe are seen as intermediaries between penitents and the divine but are not considered powerful in and of themselves. A shrine may be built "that becomes the location for the fulfillment of the village's calendrical obligations and critical supplications to the shrine image—the village's divine protector," Christian writes, but "in this context the shrine image and the site of its location are of prime importance; the seer merely introduces it, and is not himself or herself the focal point of the worship."[7]

In pre-Columbian Mesoamerican tradition, on the other hand, representation meant embodiment of these holy figures rather than mere resemblance, as it did in Europe.[8] Thus, pre-Hispanic Mexican and Central American images were understood to actually take on the character and spirit of the deities they represented, a perspective that was considered idolatry by European Catholics. As the inheritors of this tradition, folk saints of the region often are seen to act directly in the lives of their devotees rather than serving as mere intermediaries, and they are themselves venerated. Visitors frequently treat the representations of folk saints as real people, observing proper etiquette for speaking to a socially superior person or to a friend depending on the spirit's disposition—shaking hands, or offering it a cigarette or a drink.

The popularity of a particular folk saint also depends on the changing dynamics and needs of the community over time. The popular devotion to Yevgeny Rodionov provides an example. Rodionov was a Russian soldier who was killed by rebels in Chechnya after he reportedly refused to renounce his religion or remove a cross he wore around his neck. He is not recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church as an official saint, yet within a few years of his death he had gained a popular following: his image appeared in homes and churches around Russia, his hometown started drawing pilgrims, and he began to receive prayers and requests for intercession. Rodionov became a favorite folk saint for soldiers and came to represent Russian nationalism at a time of conflict when the country was still reeling from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As one journalist observed in 2003, his death and transition into the role of a folk saint served "to fill a nationalist hunger for popular heroes" when heroes were sorely needed.[9]


A devotee might visit the shrine of a folk saint for any number of reasons, including general requests for good health and good luck, the lifting of a curse, or protection on the road, but most folk saints have specialties for which their help is sought. Difunta Correa, for example, specializes in helping her followers acquire new homes and businesses. Juan Bautista Morillo helps gamblers in Venezuela, and Juan Soldado watches over border crossings between Mexico and the United States.[10] This practice is not so different from that of canonized saints—St. Benedict, for example, is the patron saint of agricultural workers—but it would be hard to find a canonized saint to look after narcotics traffickers, as does Jesús Malverde. In fact, a number of folk saints attract devotees precisely because they respond to requests that the official saints are unlikely to answer. As Griffith writes, "One needs ask for help where the help is likely to be effective."[11] So long as followers come before them with faith and perform the proper devotions, some folk saints are as willing to place a curse on a person as to lift one.

An offering to a folk saint might include the same votive candles and ex-votos (tributes of thanks) left at the shrines to canonized saints, but they also frequently include other items that reflect something of the spirit's former life or personality. Thus, Difunta Correa, who died of thirst, is given bottles of water; Maximón and the spirit of Pancho Villa are both offered cigarettes and alcohol; teddy bears and toys are left at the tomb of a little boy called Carlitos in a cemetery in Hermosillo, Mexico. Likewise, prayers to folk saints are often paired with or incorporate aspects of the Rosary but (as with many canonized saints) special petitions have been composed for many of them, each prayer evoking the particular characteristics of the saint being addressed. Other local or regional idiosyncrasies also creep in. In parts of Mexico and Central America, for example, the aromatic resin copal is burned for the more syncretic spirits like Maximón, a practice that has its roots in the offerings made to indigenous deities.

As long as the spirits come through for their followers, devotees will return. Word of mouth spreads news of cures and good fortune, and particularly responsive spirits are likely to gain a large following. Not all remain popular however, as in the case of Cutubilla whose cult has long since died out. While official saints remain canonized regardless of their popularity, folk saints that lose their devotees through their failure to respond to petitions might fade from memory entirely.

Many folk saints are venerated exclusively in private homes by their devotees. For some devotion merely consists in the veneration of images or statues and the dissemination of prints or holy cards with the saint's image. This is because a folk saint may not have a special public shrine of their own and they are not represented by the institutional Church. Instead devotees usually erect small altars in their houses decorated with images of the saint, candles, flowers and other items. They also place holy cards in their cars or in their pockets to express their devotion and through distributing holy cards. Imagery plays an essential part in the establishing of a folk saint's cult[12] and the maintenance of that devotion.

Relationship with the Catholic Church

In areas where the Catholic Church has greater power, it maintains more control over the devotional lives of its members. Thus, in Europe, folk devotions that are encouraged by the Church are quickly institutionalized, while those that are discouraged usually die out or continue only at reduced levels.[13] For similar reasons, folk saints are more often venerated in poor and marginalized communities than in affluent ones. Nor are folk saints found in shrines to the canonical saints, though the reverse is often true: it is not uncommon for a folk saint's shrine to be decorated with images of other folk saints as well as members of the official Catholic communion. Shrines in the home, too, frequently include official and unofficial saints together. Graziano explains:

Catholicism is not so much abandoned as expanded [by folk practitioners]; it is stretched to encompass exceptional resources. Whereas Catholicism ... defends a distinction between canonical and non-canonical or orthodox and heterodox, folk devotion intermingles these quite naturally and without reserve.[14]

Nonetheless Catholics are generally discouraged from cultivating a devotion to folk saints (owing to a lack of certainty that the said person is in heaven or not or if doubt remains as to whether the person ever existed). In contrast, other folk saints such as San la Muerte and Santa Muerte are outright condemned by the Catholic Church as being evil and abominable.[15]

List of folk saints by country

Picture Name Died Countries of Devotion Shrine Patronage Notes
Constantina of Rome 354  Italy Santa Costanza, Via Nomentana, Rome, Italy Maidens, sick people, people who want to convert to Catholicism Eldest daughter of Constantine I, whose conversion took place after allegedly directing prayers to Saint Agnes and being cured
Lewina 7th century  England St. Leonard's Church, Seaford, East Sussex, England The persecuted, the oppressed, those who suffer unjustly, Seaford, England Romano-British virgin put to death by Saxon invaders
Mabyn 650  Cornwall St Mabyn Parish Church, St Mabyn, Cornwall, England Agriculture, farmers, harvests, protector of livestock, St Mabyn Daughter of King Brychan, sister of Saint Nectan
Eadburh of Bicester 650  England Bicester Priory, Bicester, Oxfordshire, England Women's rights, women's education, female empowerment 7th century Old English nun, abbess, daughter of King Penda of Mercia
Wigbert 747  Germany,  Netherlands,  England Wigbertikirche, Ohrdruf, Germany Missionaries, farmers, gardeners, Thuringia, Ohrdruf, Bad Hersfeld Anglo-Saxon Benedictine monk, missionary, disciple of Saint Boniface
Alberic of Utrecht 784  Netherlands Dom Church, Utrecht, Netherlands Benedictine monk, bishop of Utrecht
Taira no Masakado 940  Japan Masakado-zuka, Otemachi, Tokyo, Japan Japanese provincial magnate and samurai
Ida of Lorraine 1113  France,  Belgium Church of Saint Ida, Bouillon, Belgium Protection of women and children, and those seeking charity, and generosity Wife of Count Eustace II, mother of Eustace III of Boulogne, Godfrey of Bouillon and King Baldwin; founded several monasteries in Northern France in later life
Henry of Coquet (known as Saint Henry the Dane) 1127  England Coquet Island, Northumberland, England Danish hermit who lived in a hermitage on Coquet Island
William of Norwich 1144  England Norwich Cathedral, Norwich, England Adopted children, the falsely accused, torture victims, Norwich English boy whose disappearance and killing was blamed on the Jews
David I King of Scots 1153  Scotland Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, Scotland The arts, the environment, Kelso Abbey, Dunfermline Abbey, Scotland 26th king of Alba, prince of the Cumbrians; founded several monasteries in Scotland
Harold of Gloucester 1168  England Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, England Kidnapped children, torture victims English boy whose murder was allegedly motivated by the blood libel
Godric 1170  England Finchale Priory, County Durham, England Fishermen, sailors, Durham English hermit, sailor, merchant, and centenarian
Niels of Aarhus 1180  Denmark Aarhus Cathedral, Aarhus, Denmark Danish prince who lived an ascetic life; cult extinct by the 18th century
Robert of Bury 1181  England Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Bury, Suffolk, England English boy who was allegedly kidnapped and ritually murdered by Jews on Good Friday; cult suppressed in 1536
Anders of Slagelse
(known as Hellig Anders)
late 12th century  Denmark Saint Peter's Church, Slagelse, Denmark The arts, Slagelse 12th century parish priest from Slagelse
Robert Flower
(known as Robert of Knaresborough)
1218  England St Robert's Cave and Chapel of the Holy Cross, Knaresborough, England Outcasts, misfits, Knaresborough 12th century English hermit who lived in a cave
Guðmundur Arason 1237  Iceland Hólar Cathedral, Hólar, Iceland Iceland, Icelanders 12th century bishop of Hólar
Theobald of Marly 1247  France,  Quebec Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey, Cernay-la-Ville, France Farmers, protection against bad weather and crop failure, eye disease, Oblates of Mary Immaculate 13th century French knight, Cistercian monk, and abbot
Dominic del Val
(known as Dominguito)
1250  Spain Dominguito del Val Chapel, Zaragoza Cathedral, Zaragoza, Spain Altar boys, acolytes, choirboys Aragonese choirboy allegedly murdered in a blood libel; the veracity of the story of his murder is disputed.
Hugh of Lincoln (known as Little Hugh of Lincoln) 1255  England Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England English boy allegedly murdered in a blood libel
(known as Wilhelmina of Bohemia)
1279 or 1282  Italy The Guglielmites Italian noblewoman; self-alleged daughter of King Ottokar I; preached a feminized version of Christianity, founded the Guglielmites who worshipped her as the Holy Spirit incarnate; cult was suppressed in 1300
John Schorne 1313  England Schorne Well, North Marston, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom Gout and toothache English priest from North Marston who became renowned for his piety and miraculous cures for gout and toothache[16]
Richard Rolle 1349  England Church of the Holy Trinity, Hampole, South Yorkshire, England Spiritual writers, mysticism English hermit, mystic, and religious writer
Girolamo Savonarola 1498  Italy Against persecution Dominican friar and reformer killed for heresy in the period of the Renaissance Florence
Saint daughter of Ivana D.[citation needed] 16th-17th century  Slovenia,  Croatia Menstrual pain, red wine and young women Credited for expanding the wine-drinking culture
Potenciana 16th century  Spain,  Italy,  Mexico,  Philippines,  United States Church of All Saints, Villanueva de la Reina, Spain 16th century Spanish Anchoress
Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros 1517  Spain Toledo Cathedral, Toledo Dakhla, Western Sahara, students, scholors, educators. Spanish Cardinal, theologian, Archbishop of Toledo, and Primate of Spain; helped preserve the Mozarabic Rite from extinction
Catherine of Aragon 1536  Spain
 United Kingdom
Peterborough Cathedral, Peterborough, England First wife of King Henry VIII; mother of Queen Mary I of England
Miguel de Ayatumo 1609  Philippines San Pedro Apostol Church, Loboc, Bohol, Philippines Filipino Jesuit seminarian
Amakusa Shirō 1638  Japan Japanese Catholic samurai and revolutionary
King Charles the Martyr 1649  England St George's Chapel, Windsor, United Kingdom 24th King of England (1625-1649), head of the House of Stuart. martyr of the English Civil War
Apolinario de la Cruz (known as Hermano Pule) 1841  Philippines Tayabas, Quezon, Philippines Cofradía de San José, religious freedom, peace, native Filipinos Filipino religious leader and revolutionary
Stephen 'Stoney' Brennan 1845  Ireland Westbridge Street Loughrea, Co Galway Invoked by women seeking husbands and for those seeking cures for illnesses/ailments. (People kiss his head carving) [17][18] A poor Irish man hanged for stealing a turnip in 1845. Nothing else is known about him except that he was ''the seventh son of a seventh son'' and believed to be a healer.
Jean Marie Villars 1868  United States Holy Cross Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana financial problems, good health, fortune, finding lost things, murder victims French-American priest in Indiana who died under mysterious circumstances
Marie Catherine Laveau 1881  United States International Shrine of Marie Laveau, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States mothers, children, fevers, love, volunteerism, Louisiana voodoo American practitioner of Voodoo, herbalist and midwife who was renowned in Louisiana
Héléna Soutadé 1885  France Terre-Cabade Cemetery, Toulouse, France children French teacher and mystic
María Adelaide de Sam José e Sousa (known as Saint Maria Adelaide) 1885  Portugal Saint Maria Adelaide Chapel, Arcozelo, Portugal Portuguese woman with incorruptible body[19]
Pancho Sierra 1891  Argentina Salto Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina Argentine faith healer
José Rizal 1896  Philippines Iglesia Sagrada ni Lahi, Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines Rizalista religious movements Filipino nationalist and polymath during the end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines.
José Tomás de Sousa Martins 1897  Portugal Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, Lisbon, Portugal Portuguese physician and philanthropist
Francesc Canals i Ambrós (known as El Santet) 1899  Spain Poblenou Cemetery, Barcelona Marriage, fertility, non-monetary favors. Catalan youth and miracle worker
Teresa Urrea (known as Santa Teresa de Cabora) 1906  Mexico
 United States
Chapel of Saint Teresa, San Pedro, Arizona, United States soldiers, government, healing, Yaqui people, Mayo people, uprising, homeless, sick, revolution Mexican mystic, folk healer, and revolutionary insurgent
Don Pedro Jaramillo 1907  United States Don Pedro Jaramillo Shrine, Falfurrias, Texas, United States cures, good health, fortune, healing, protection from diseases Mexican-American curandero, faith healer, and clairvoyant
Maria Izilda de Castro Ribeiro
(known as Menina Izildinha, Angel of the Lord)
1911  Portugal
Mausoleum of Menina Izildinha, Monte Alto, São Paulo, Brazil Children, adolescents, orphans, good health, social welfare, protection from harm, protection from diseases, people in poverty Portuguese girl who died of leukemia
Grigori Rasputin 1916  Russia Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula (known as Francisco "Pancho" Villa) 1923  Mexico Monumento a la Revolución, Mexico City, Mexico Mexican revolutionary general and politician
Maria Basañes 1929  Philippines Casanayan, Pilar, Capiz, Philippines Filipino woman with an incorruptible body
Engelbert Dollfuss 1934  Austria Dollfusskirche, Hohe Wand, Austria Austria Former Chancellor of Austria, leader of the Vaterländische Front; murdered by the Schutzstaffel during the July Putsch
José Antonio Primo de Rivera 1936  Spain Valley of the Fallen, Sierra de Guadarrama, Spain Spaniards, falangists, workers. Spanish politician, founder of Falange Española, and nationalist martyr.
Filomena Almarinez 1938  Philippines Biñan, Laguna, Philippines Filipino Catholic laywoman
Juan Castillo Morales (known as Juan Soldado) 1938  Mexico
 United States
Shrine of San Juan Soldado, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico good health, criminals, family problems, crossing the U.S.–Mexico border Mexican convicted rapist and murderer turned folk saint
José de Jesús Fidencio Síntora (known as Niño Fidencio) 1938  Mexico
 United States
Fidencista Christian Church, Espinazo, Nuevo León, Mexico healings, cures, protection from diseases Mexican curandero
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu 1938  Romania,  Moldova Green House, Bucharest, Romania Romanians Founder of the Legion of the Archangel Michael later known as the Iron Guard, nationalist martyr;
Sara Colonia Zambrano (known as Sarita Colonia) 1940  Peru Capilla de Santa Sarita, Callao, Peru bus and taxi drivers, prostitutes, LGBT community, job seekers, poor, migrants Peruvian girl credited with the ability to make miracles
Juan Bautista Bairoletto 1941  Argentina immigrants, prostitutes, bandits, financial problems, justice Argentine outlaw dubbed as El Robin Hood criollo
Watt Henry 1941  Ireland St. Coman's Cemetery, Roscommon, Ireland Those afflicted by chronic pain, sick people Irish layman who spent all day praying in Church and died smelling of roses.
Eva Perón 1952  Argentina Casa Museo Eva Perón, Los Toldos, Argentina First Lady of Argentina (1946–1952)
Valeriu Gafencu 1952  Romania,  Moldova Târgu Ocna, Bacău, Romania Romanian Orthodox theologian and martyr
Joseph Stalin[20] 1953  Russia,  Georgia Kremlin Wall Necropolis, Moscow, Russia Victory, patriotism, communism Leader of the USSR from 1922 to 1953; venerated by some priests of the Russian Orthodox Church
Miguel Ángel Gaitán
(known as El Angelito Milagroso)
1967  Argentina Banda Florida, San Juan, Argentina Argentine baby who died in meningitis
Che Guevara 1967  Cuba
Che Guevara Mausoleum, Santa Clara, Cuba Warfare, government, revolution Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla, leader, diplomat, and military theorist.
Hồ Chí Minh[citation needed] 1969  Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi, Vietnam 1st President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945–1969), communist revolutionary, marxist theorist, Vietnamese politician
Roberto Clemente[21]
1972  Puerto Rico
 United States
United States, Latin America Athletes, Victims of racism, Victims of natural disasters, Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico, Latin Americans Baseball player and humanitarian (1955–1972)
Josip Broz Tito 1980  Croatia Former President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1953–1980)
Bruno Gumarao (known as Bruno Nazareno) 1981  Philippines Chapel of San Bruno Nazareno, Victoria, Northern Samar, Philippines Filipino faith healer
Seraphim Rose 1982  United States Saint Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina, California, United States American Hieromonk, theologian, mystic, author; co-founded Saint Herman of Alaska Monastery
Ferdinand Marcos 1989  Philippines Rizalian Brotherhood, San Quintin, Abra, Philippines[22] people of Ilocos Norte 10th President of the Philippines (1965–1986)
Arsenie Boca 1989  Romania Prislop Monastery, Hunedoara, Romania Romanian Orthodox priest, theologian, mystic, and artist
Pablo Escobar Gaviria 1993  Colombia drug trade, Medellín Cartel, drug lords, protection from harm Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist who was the founder and sole leader of the Medellín Cartel
Yevgeny Rodionov 1996  Russia Kuznetsky District, Penza Oblast, Russia Russian soldier killed in First Chechen War
Diana, Princess of Wales 1997  United Kingdom Althorp, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom mental health, personal problems, protection from tabloid journalism First wife of King Charles III, mother of Prince William and Prince Harry
Miriam Alejandra "Gilda" Bianchi 1996  Argentina Gilda Shrine, Entre Ríos, Argentina healing, Gilda fanatics Argentine cumbia singer and songwriter
Vangeliya Pandeva Gushterova
(known as Baba Vanga)
1996  Bulgaria Church of St Petka of the Saddlers, Sofia, Bulgaria physical healing, personal problems, prophecies of life Bulgarian clairvoyant and mystic
Jun Andres (known as Kristohan) 2000  Philippines Balay ni Kristohan, Maguindanao, Philippines Teduray people Filipino mystic and religious movement founder
Rodrigo Bueno 2000  Argentina Argentine singer of cuarteto music
Nikolay Guryanov 2002  Russia Russian Orthodox priest and mystic
Tomislav Štrbulović
(known as Thaddeus of Vitovnica)
2003  Serbia Vitovnica Monastery, Serbia Serbian Orthodox archimandrite, elder, author, and mystic
Maria Virginia Leonzon 2005  Philippines Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Hermosa, Bataan, Philippines Filipino laywoman canonized in 1995 by the Apostolic Catholic Church
Nazario Moreno González 2014  Mexico
 United States
Holanda and Apatzingán, Mexico La Familia Michoacana, Knights Templar Cartel, people of Michoacán, protection from harm, protection from Los Zetas Mexican drug lord
Marie-Paule Giguère 2015  Canada
 United States
Our Lady of All Nations Church, Quebec, Canada Community of the Lady of All Nations Canadian mystic and religious movement founder
Bhumibol Adulyadej 2016  Thailand Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, Phra Nakhon district Thai people King of Thailand (1946–2016; venerated along with the rest of the living Thai royal family)
Dobri Dobrev 2018  Bulgaria Kremikovtsi Monastery, Sofia, Bulgaria Bulgarian ascetic
Diego Armando Maradona 2020  Argentina
Maradona Shrine, Naples, Italy Iglesia Maradoniana Argentine professional football player and manager

Legendary folk saints

Lin Moniang (Mazu)  China
most countries in Southeast Asia
The ocean and patroness of seafarers, health, fertility, business Chinese female deity and protector of Southeast Asians
Saint Sarah  France Church of the Saintes Maries de la Mer, Camargue, France Romani people
Escrava Anastacia  Brazil Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil abused victims A slave woman of African descent wearing an oppressive facemask.
Niño Compadrito  Peru Cuzco, Peru Son of a Spanish viceroy and an Inca princess
Master Rákóczi
(known as Count Saint Germain)
 France French spiritual master on Theosophical and post-Theosophical teachings
María Lionza  Venezuela Cerro María Lionza Natural Monument, Yaracuy, Venezuela nature, love, peace, harmony, indigenous religions in Venezuela Venezuelan goddess
Guaicaipuro  Venezuela Venezuelan chief of both the Teques and Caracas tribes
Saint Wilgefortis (known as Librada) Western Europe and some parts in Latin America Sigüenza Cathedral, Sigüenza, Spain relief from tribulations, in particular by women who wished to be liberated ("disencumbered") from abusive husbands, facial hair Female saint who grew a beard
Saint Baltasar  Argentina,  Paraguay Concepción, Tucumán Fernando de la Mora, Paraguay A crowned black man wearing a red robe or cloak and carrying a scepter or a staff associated with Saint Balthazar, the wise
Lazarus (known as Lazarus, the poor) Poor people, lepers, Order of Saint Lazarus Legendary beggar whose story was told in one of Jesus' parables
Saint Senara  Cornwall St Senara's Church, Zennor, Cornwall, England Zennor Legendary Breton princess accused of adultery and thrown into the sea in a barrel while pregnant, washed up in Cornwall and founded Zennor
Saint Amaro  Spain,  Portugal Ermita de San Amaro, Puerto de la Cruz Disabled People Catholic Abbot and sailor who claimed to have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and reached paradise
Saint Leticia  Spain,  Corsica, formerly in  England Church of San Pedro, Ayerbe, Spain Ayerbe woman venerated as a virgin martyr and companion of Saint Ursula
Celestina Abdenago (known as Anima Sola)  Mexico
 Dominican Republic
relief from tribulations Woman pictured suffering alone in purgatory for allegedly withholding water to Jesus
Jesús Juarez Mazo (known as Jesús Malverde)  Mexico
 United States
Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico drug cartels, drug trafficking, outlaws, bandits, robbers, thieves, smugglers, people in poverty Robin Hood figure of Mexico
Saint Sicarius of Bethlehem (known as Sicarius of Brantôme)  Israel,  France Abbey church of Saint-Pierre de Brantôme Invoked for general cures One of the victims of the Massacre of the Innocents
Saint Raja  Serbia Rajinovac Monastery Spring Begaljica, Hard workers A servant who was killed by his master's sons[23][24][25][26][27]
Deolinda Correa (known as Difunta Correa)  Argentina
Vallecito, Argentina cattle herders, ranches, truck driver, gauchos Argentine mother found dead with a baby
Aunt Bibija Parts of the Balkans Chapel of Aunt Bibija, Belgrade, Serbia Good health, Children, Romani people A healer who miraculously cured children
Holy Child of La Guardia  Spain Monastery of St. Thomas of Avila, La Guardia, Spain Spanish child allegedly murdered in a blood libel; story used as justification for the public execution of several jews and conversos; no evidence was ever found and the child's existence is disputed
Antonio Gil (known as Gauchito Gil)  Paraguay
Sanctuary of Gauchito Gil, Pay Ubre, Mercedes, Corrientes gauchos, protection from harm, luck, fortune, good health, love, healing, outlaws, bravery, deserters, folk heroes, cowboys, safe passage Robin Hood figure of Argentina
Santa Claus Worldwide belief Legendary character who is said to bring gifts on Christmas Eve associated with Saint Nicholas of Myra
Saint Demetra Byzantine and Ottoman Greece Gateway in Eleusis, Greece Agriculture Christianization of the Greek goddess Demeter[28]
Folk saints recognized by the Catholic Church
Saint Menelphalus of Aix 430  France Aix Cathedral, Aix-en-Provence, France Aix-en-Provence 5th century metropolitan Archbishop of Aix
St Miliau 6th century  France Guimiliau Parish close, Guimiliau, Brittany, France Miners, blacksmiths, farm animals, against Rheumatism, Saint-Méen-le-Grand Breton prince martyred by his evil brother
Saint Nectan
(known as Nectan of Hartland)
510  England,  Wales,  Cornwall Saint Nectan's Glen, Trethevy, Cornwall, England Fishermen, protection against floods, protection against witchcraft, healing, Hartland, Devon 5th century Brythonic holy man and hermit, son of King Brychan Brycheiniog
King Saint Clovis I 511  France,  Italy Basilica of Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis, France France First King of the Franks, founder of the Merovingian dynasty, raised pagan but converted to Christianity on Christmas day 496 AD
St. Cannera 530 AD  Ireland


St. Canera's Church, Neosho, Missouri Against drowning, water safety, sailors, against aquaphobia, against nyctophobia Irish virgin and hermitess
Hildegard of the Vinzgau 783  France Abbey of Saint-Arnould, Metz, France Holy Roman Empire Queen consort of the Franks and second wife of Charlemagne
Charlemagne the Great 814  Germany,  France,  Austria Aachen Cathedral, Aachen, Germany Holy Roman Empire, Germany, against separatist wars, justice, political leaders King of the Franks who founded the Carolingian Empire after being crowned Emperor of the Romans by the Pope in 800; Beatified in 1179
Fulbert of Chartres 1028  France Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, Chartres, France Teachers, architects and builders, musicians, Diocese of Chartres 11th century bishop of Chartres, hymnist, teacher, and theologian
Saint David of Munktorp 1082  Sweden Munktorp Church, Munktorp, Västmanland, Sweden Mentally ill, the insane, protection from fire, diocese of Västerås, Munktorp Anglo-Saxon Bendictine monk and missionary to Sweden
Peter of Montboissier
(known as Saint Peter the Venerable)
1156  France Cluny Abbey, Cluny, France Cluny Abbey, Benedictines, scholars 12th century French Benedictine Abbot, author, theologian, scholar, and philosopher
Saint Christina the Astonishing
(known as Christina Mirabilis)
1224  Belgium Church of Saint Catherine, Sint-Truiden, Belgium Millers, people with mental disorders Flemish woman who suffered a seizure and was presumed dead, only to have come back to life during her funeral and levitate in the air
Gilbert de Moravia (known as Saint Gilbert of Dornoch) 1245  Scotland Dornoch Cathedral, Dornoch, Scotland Protection against oppression and injustice, physical and emotional violence, bishops, Caithness, Sutherland, Dornoch Cathedral 13th century Gaelic bishop of Caithness
Gundisalvus of Amarante (known as Saint Gundisalvus of Amarante) 1259  Portugal Saint Gundisalvus Monastery, Amarante, Portugal Women (especially older women) who want to get married, viola players, architects, pilgrims, people who have suffered attacks Portuguese Dominican priest remembered for his devotion and humility to whom several miraculous events are attributed; Beatified in 1561
Werner of Oberwesel 1287  Germany Saint Werner's Chapel, Bacharach, Germany Winemakers Palatine teen whose unexplained death was blamed on Jews; officially venerated by the Diocese of Trier until his cult was suppressed in 1963
Anderl Oxner von Rinn
(known as Andreas Oxner and the Child of Judenstein)
1462  Austria Anderl Chapel, Judenstein, Rinn, Tyrol, Austria Children, emotional distress, physical ailments, Judenstein Austrian boy who was known for his devotion to God and mystical visions; allegedly murdered in a blood libel; beatified in 1752 by Pope Benedict XIV
Simon of Trent
(known as Simon Unverdorben)
1475  Italy Church of St. Simon and St. Jude, Trent, Italy Children, kidnap victims, torture victims Italian boy allegedly murdered in a blood libel; beatified in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V; cult suppressed in 1965 by Pope Paul VI
Joanna, Princess of Portugal
(known as Princess Saint Joanna)
1490  Portugal Church and Convent of Jesus, Aveiro, Portugal Aveiro Portuguese princess who wanted to be a nun; Beatified in 1693
Sepé Tiaraju 1756  Brazil Cathedral of St. Francis of Paola, Pelotas, Brazil Guarani leader; Cause for sainthood opened in April 2017
Luisa de la Torre Rojas (known as Beatita de Humay) 1869  Peru Lima Metropolitan Cathedral, Lima, Peru Peruvian laywoman and mystic; Cause for sainthood opened in July 1946
Francisca de Paula de Jesus
(known as Nhá Chica)
1895  Brazil Our Lady of Conception Sanctuary, Baependi, Brazil Brazilian poor, people ridiculed for their faith, devotees of the Immaculate Conception Afro-Brazilian called "Mother of the Poor" known for her devotion to Our Lady; Beatified in 2013
José Gregorio Hernández
(known as Doctor of the poor)
1919  Venezuela La Candelaria Church, Mérida, Venezuela medical students, diagnosticians, doctors, medical patients Venezuelan physician; Beatified in 2021[29]
Antônio da Rocha Marmo
(known as Antoninho)
1930  Brazil Chapel of Our Lady of Health, São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil Brazilian boy with tuberculosis who dreamed of becoming a Roman Catholic priest; Cause for sainthood opened in 2007
Cícero Romão Batista
(known as Padre Cícero)
1934  Brazil Capela do Socorro, Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará, Brazil Juazeiro do Norte Brazilian Roman Catholic priest and politician; Cause for sainthood opened in August 2022
Odette Vidal Cardoso
(known as Odetinha)
1939  Brazil Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Brazilian girl known for her prayer life, acts of charity and purity; Declared Venerable in November 2021
Sãozinha de Alenquer
(known as the Little Flower of Abrigada)
1940  Portugal Mausoleum of Sãozinha, Alenquer, Portugal Young Portuguese girl remembered for her dedication to the Catholic faith and her purity; Cause for sainthood opened in 1994
Phanxicô Xaviê Trương Bửu Diệp 1946  Vietnam Nhà nguyện Trương Bửu Diệp, Giá Rai, Bạc Liêu, Vietnam Vietnamese priest and martyr; Cause for sainthood opened in January 2012
Francisco Rodrigues da Cruz
(known as Padre Cruz)
1948  Portugal Mausoleum of Padre Cruz, Benfica Cemetery, Lisbon, Portugal Priests, sick, prisoners, poor, devotees of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Portuguese priest revered for his apostolic fervor and charity; Cause for sainthood opened in March 1951
Melchora Saravia Tasayco (known as La Melchorita) 1951  Peru Santuario de la Beata Melchorita, Chincha, Peru Peruvian Franciscan tertiary and mystic; Cause for sainthood opened in April 1978
Bernard Francis Casey (known as Solanus Casey) 1957  United States St. Bonaventure Monastery, Detroit, Michigan, United States Broadcasters, pro-life activists, the poor and marginalized, healing, vocations, Detroit American priest, friar and religious leader; Beatified in 2017
Charlene Richard
(known as the Little Cajun Saint)
1959  United States St. Edward Church, Richard, Louisiana, United States Cajun people, good health, converts to Catholicism Cajun girl who died of leukemia; Cause for sainthood opened in January 2020
Nelson Santana
(known as Nelsinho)
1964  Brazil Senhor Bom Jesus Church, Ibitinga, São Paulo, Brazil Brazilian boy who died of cancer and found solace in faith; Declared Venerable in May 2019
Fulton Sheen 1979  United States St. Mary's Cathedral, Peoria, Illinois, United States Broadcasters, pro-life activists, Catholic educators, Catholic converts, those who suffer from addictions American bishop, author, teacher, theologian, radio host, and televangelist; Beatification scheduled for 2019 but delayed
Maria Aparecida Berushko
(known as Tita)
1986  Ukraine
Ukrainian Orthodox Parish of Saint Nicholas, Joaquim Távora, Paraná, Brazil Teachers, students, schooling Brazilian teacher who donated her life to save her students from a fire; Cause for sainthood opened in October 2005 by Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Popular saints identified with folkloric beings
Santa Muerte  Mexico
 United States
Central America
Shrine of Most Holy Death, Mexico City, Mexico love, prosperity, good health, fortune, healing, safe passage, protection against witchcraft, protection against assaults, protection against gun violence, protection against violent death, safe delivery to the afterlife Mexican female deity and personification of death
San La Muerte  Paraguay
restore love, good fortune, gambling, protection against witchcraft, protection against imprisonment, inmates, prisoners, luck, good health, vengeance Skeletal folk saint; male version of Santa Muerte
San Pascualito (known as San Pascualito Muerte)  Guatemala
Capilla de San Pascualito, Olintepeque, Guatemala curing diseases, death, healings, cures, vengeance, love, graveyards Folk saints associated with Saint Paschal Baylon
El Tío (known as Lord of the Underworld)  Bolivia Cerro Rico, Potosí Bolivia Miners Figure associated with the devil who receives gifts in exchange for protection
Maximón  Guatemala Santiago Atitlán, Guetamala health, crops, marriage, business, revenge, death Mayan deity
Animals venerated as folk saints
Saint Guinefort 13th century  France Dogs, dog owners, children, infants 13th-century French Greyhound; devotion suppressed by the Catholic Church but persisted until 1930

See also


  1. ^ Michael Frishkopf. (2001). "Changing Modalities in the Globalization of Islamic Saint Veneration and Mysticism: Sidi Ibrahim al-Dasuqi, Shaykh Muhammad 'Uthman al-Burhani, and the Sufi Orders," Religious Studies and Theology 20(1):1
  2. ^ Octavio Ignacio Romano V. (1965). "Charismatic Medicine, Folk-Healing, and Folk Sainthood," American Anthropologist 67(5):1151–1173. p. 1157.
  3. ^ Graziano, Frank (2006). Cultures of Devotion: Folk Saints of Spanish America. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 9–10.
  4. ^ Kathleen Ann Myers. 2003. Neither Saints Nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 23.
  5. ^ Griffith, James S. (2003). Folk Saints of the Borderlands: Victims, Bandits & Healers. Tucson: Rio Nuevo Publishers. p. 152.
  6. ^ William A Christian Jr. (1973) "Holy People in Peasant Europe," Comparative Studies in Society and History 15(1):106-114. p. 106
  7. ^ Christian, p. 107
  8. ^ Lois Parkinson Zamora. 2006. The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  9. ^ "From Village Boy to Soldier, Martyr and, Many Say, Saint" The New York Times, November 21, 2003.
  10. ^ Watson, Julie. "Residents along U.S.-Mexican border find strength in local folk saints", AP, December 16, 2001
  11. ^ Griffith p. 19.
  12. ^ sheldon, Natasha (2017-06-22). "The Girl in the Iron Mask: The Legend of the Slave Girl, St. Escrava Anastacia". History Collection. Retrieved 2023-10-16.
  13. ^ Christian pp. 108–109.
  14. ^ Graziano, p. 29
  15. ^ "La Santa Muerte: Mexico's Macabre Religion at Odds with the Church". TheCollector. 2023-05-08. Retrieved 2024-02-12.
  16. ^ A., F. S. (1875). "The Editor Box". The Penny Post. 25. J.H. Parker: 81. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  17. ^ irishfolkartproject (2017-09-24). "Some Galway Folk Art. The story of Stoney Brennan Loughrea". Irish Folk Art Project. Retrieved 2024-03-02.
  18. ^ Brogan, Fergus (2018-03-13). "13. STONEY BRENNAN". Galway County Heritage Office. Retrieved 2024-03-02.
  19. ^ The curious story of Maria Adelaide
  20. ^ "Controversy in Moscow: Stalin icon revered". Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  21. ^ Sources:
  22. ^ "Cult of Marcos rises among his former subjects". Independent. 2011-10-23. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  23. ^ "IZVOR SVETE VODE KOJA ISCELJUJE Neverovatna priča krije se iza imena ovog manastira, nadaleko čuven po ovoj ikoni! | Lepote Srbije".
  24. ^ "Rajin novac sagradi manastir - Život - Dnevni list Danas". 27 July 2007.
  25. ^ "Manastir Rajinovac - Travel.RS". 12 April 2011.
  26. ^ "Istorijat manastira Rajinovac".
  27. ^ "NAROD VERUJE DA IZVOR NADOMAK BEOGRADA IMA SVETU VODU KOJA ISCELJUJE: Neverovatna priča krije se iza imena manastira kod Grocke". 17 June 2023.
  28. ^ Keller, Mara Lynn (1988). "The Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone: Fertility, Sexuality, and Rebirth". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 4 (1): 27–54. ISSN 8755-4178. JSTOR 25002068.
  29. ^ Venezuela celebrates as 'doctor of the poor' beatified

This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "Folk saint", which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.