May
13

A Patron Saint for Divorced Catholic Mothers

By

Lynn Kircher, contemporary sculptor, created this statue.

Recently I received a message from a woman who is Catholic but never received the sacrament of Confirmation. However, she’ll be receiving it soon. :)   She was in the process of deciding what name to choose for herself and was wondering if I knew a saint who is, or could be, the patron saint for a single mother.  Amazingly, I didn’t…  I mean, that’s kind of a ‘no brainer’ given the subject of this blog.  I even wrote a post quite a while ago about a possible patron saint for divorced, Catholic fathers…but never did one for us mothers!  So, thanks to her message, here we go. :)

I did a google search and found one that seems to fit SO well.  She’s also a very interesting woman.  I’d like to find a good book on her, so if you know of one, please don’t keep it to yourself!

The following is from AmericanCatholic.org….

St. Helen (249-329) found the True Cross in Jerusalem and, for many centuries, devotion to St. Helen has been linked to devotion to the Holy Cross. It would be hard to find a painting, statue or holy card of her that does not depict her embracing the cross.

But there is another, sadder facet of Helen’s life. After 22 years of marriage, Helen’s husband, Constantius, divorced her in order to make a politically advantageous marriage with a young woman who was a member of Rome’s imperial family.

Clearly, St. Helen would be a natural choice as patron of divorced and divorcing people, so why has this devotion to her arisen only recently? For most of the 1,700 years since Helen’s death, divorce was rare, even among non-Catholics. Among Catholics it was almost unthinkable. Today, unfortunately, when divorce has become commonplace, St. Helen is offered to unhappy spouses as a heavenly patron who can truly sympathize with their anguish.

Helen was also the mother of the Roman emperor, Constantine, who was the first Christian Roman emperor.  He is also a saint.

Well…who could be a more perfect patron saint for us?  Not only did she experience the horrors of divorce… then go on to be declared a saint… but she raised a son who has also been declared a saint!!  She sounds to me like she was an amazing woman in many respects.

I found a holy card that can be purchased from The Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which is in Pennsylvania.  The prayer on the card is also just perfect for us:

Holy and blessed Saint Helen,

with the anguish and devotion with which You sought the Cross of Christ,

I plead that You give me God’s grace to suffer in patience the labours of this life,

so that through them and through your intercession and protections,

I will be able to seek and carry the Cross, which God has placed on me,

so that I can serve Him in this life and enjoy His Glory ever after.  Amen

If you have any tidbits of information about St. Helen to share with us, please do!!

May God bless and bring you peace.

St. Helen, pray for us.

Manya

P.S.  The image of a statue of St. Helen shows an old woman because it’s believed that she was in her 80′s when she found the cross!  Can you imagine being in your 80′s back in the late 200′s!  Truly an amazing woman…

18 Comments

1

Evelyn Waugh wrote a novel about St. Helen called “Helena”. I read it and it is quite good! Thank you for your recommendation to pray to St. Helen. I really need some help right now.

2

Lisa,
I have that book and have started to read it. Thanks for mentioning it.

God bless you and may St. Helen pray for you.
Manya

3

It was a difficult marriage and a difficult divorce for me. Although the Church does not officially disapprove or exclude practicing Catholic women, how many times do you even hear the word “divorced”? Even on EWTN, which I love to hear and watch,
you never hear the word divorced woman. Everything seems to be geared toward families. How many single or divorced women show up for the breakfasts and dinners? We are not welcome nor expected to show up. We are tolerated. Yet, at the daily Masses I always count more “single” women in the pews than anyone else.

4

Janet,
I disagree with your assessment that we (divorced Catholics) are not welcome at church events. Of course, most of what takes place in parishes is geared towards families. And attending an event for families, if you have no children, wouldn’t be a lot of fun. So, I think the issue is that there aren’t events for divorced Catholics at your parish…? In my area, I’ve noticed more acknowledgment of divorced parish members recently and I’m sure that will grow. It takes participation by those of us who are divorced and still practicing our Catholic faith to get things started and/or to keep them going. If your parish does not offer resources for those who are divorced, find and speak with the proper person and get a group started.

Manya
P.S. Contact EWTN, too. Let them know that there’s a desire and a need “out there” for them to reach out to divorced Catholics!

5

In my hometown most of the Catholic Churches have support groups for divorced men & women, even down to post divorce counseling. Its really cool. & there is this ministry called “MOMS” that I just found out about, it is for mothers of ALL WALKS OF LIFE to come together & share their struggles, get support & pray together come together spiritually. I am out of state from where I grew up & in the area where I live there is hardly any support for divorced men and women infact the “Moms” ministry is brand new to our area, its a start I am hoping it will grow & grow into maybe a support or prayer group specifically for divorced women. In one of the churches where I grew up they even have a non-profit legal aide organization. where attorneys come & work pro-bono for women & their children for small family law issues however the will listen to any case & try to help but it is mostly for single mom’s even single mom’s that have never been married. The support groups are endless…. I miss my hometown so much where I grew up. but that’s military life for ya.

6

Erika,
Thanks for letting us know. As the ones who are divorced, we need to make sure such resources are available in our parishes. We can’t wait for others to put these things in place and complain when they don’t do so. (That statement isn’t directed at you, Erika :) )

There are divorced Catholics in every parish…they’re the ones who need to start the support groups and from there other resources will be put into place. This is how all groups get started…by the ones who have the need speaking up. Otherwise, how does any organization know and understand what the needs are?

Getting off my soapbox now. :)
Manya

7

Janet:
My name is Janet too and I could have written every word you wrote. My ex came from a Catholic family and I was sure we could weather the storms. But those storms turned into a category 4 hurricane and our family got destroyed. My ex wanted to destroy me too.

At daily Mass the Church is full of single women. Actually, I started becoming more devout and closer to Jesus AFTER my marriage. Tom would mock and taunt me for practicing my (our) faith. It was a blessing the union ended.
I have often thought that I too have never heard the word divorce on EWTN. Inclusive words include families, widows, singles but never divorcees.
It is strange. It is like we don’t exist.
I live my faith fully and I truly love the Church but in the parish context I know there is no place for me. It is sad because we have so much to offer.
It is nice to know I have a “sister” out there. Regards, Janet W.

8

In the Pennsylvania house of Asa Packer (founder of the old Lehigh railroad) is a prominent plaque of St Fabiola, also a Patron Saint of Divorced Women. We saw it on our Poconos vacation, and described it here:

http://tinyurl.com/2bslmdk

Asa’s daughter Mary, if the house tour guide was correct, married primarily to get control of the family fortune, after the death of her parents and brothers. Having accomplished that objective, the marraige soon dissolved. The plaque is of expensive materials, and seems to change color (from dark purple to bright red) as you walk past

9

Tom,
Interesting. I did a google search on Mary Packer and didn’t find anything just about her nor about what religion they practiced so can’t say if the tour guide was or wasn’t correct…or why a plaque of St. Fabiola is prominently displayed in the house. It’s intriguing, though.

Has anyone else visited the Asa Packer Mansion?

Manya

10

I totally agree, Janet.

11
white lilies no more
September 21st, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thank you all catholic single mums who posted story of St Helen’s predicament.
At least I am comforted reading about her broken marriage and how she moved on to become a saint. There is always something good that mixes with evil !

12
white lilies no more
September 21st, 2011 at 8:02 am

Take Heart Janet. your divorce situation is similar to mine. Good to hear that you hold on to your love and faith in Christ. Our good Lord works in mysterious ways and according to His time, all things will unfold to reveal you His mercies and love. You are not alone Janet, I am suffering the same way as you are too.

13

St. Margaret of Cortona (1247-1297)

14

I was praying the rosary tonight and feeling so sad about the failure of a 46 year marriage. I thought – there must be a patron saint for divorced people – and here I am. The funny thing – I ask for intercession from St. Helen all the time because she found the true cross – I didn’t know she was put aside by her husband! I put up with drinking, lying and womanizing in my marriage and finally said “this is enough” – I was a life long SUNDAY Catholic. After we separated I signed up for adoration once a week and noticed drooping flowers and quietly changed the water and rearranged flowers – I attended daily Mass and changed the water and rearranged flowers before Mass – I was asked to help be Mass coordinator during the week – these activities kept me from crying – God had a plan. I felt safe – I was a morning person and found peace in helping – I was next asked to pray the rosary at local nursing home with residents – then asked to be Eucharistic minister at another nursing home – volunteers are so needed – even divorced ones – I feel accepted. I don’t know where I would be if not for the Catholic Church!

15

Judy, I’m so sorry. I completely agree with you…I don’t know where I’d be without the Catholic Church and the strength faith provides. God bless you and your family…and bring you peace.

16

Thank you for the information provided about Saint Helen. I will make it my business to find out more information about her. I will certainly find her book and read it. I am sure this will help me a lot. Thank you for posting this story. God Bless you all.

17

As I was browsing I found your site and I’m so happy! For the past year I often thought if there were a patron saint for divorced women I would be so happy! After 31 years of marriage, 3 adult children my ex sat down and told me he wanted a divorce and didn’t love me. Ours was not a perfect marriage but I prayed each and every day for help and guidance with him. I did not notice the clues in the last 5 yrs., after the begging, grief, anger towards him we are divorced and I am now slowly healing mentally and physically for he mentally and at times physically abused me. Funny thing, I still love him and cry. But thanks to family and friends and PRAYER I am in a better place. Thank you for spreading the word about St. Helen. I pray to St. Joseph and Mary and of course Jesus to help me and my family and now I have St. Helen.
THANK YOU!!!!!!

18

I love the story of Saint Helena! I have found 2 other single mom saints: Saint Margaret of Cortona (who is called the patron saint of single mothers) and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. Saint Margaret was never married. Her lover refused to marry her, even after the birth of their son and then he was found dead. Saint Elizabeth was widowed. She loved to give food and money away to the poor. I hope this helps. I love finding glimpses of single moms through history!

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