Honeybees are more than just honey-producing insects, it is also associated with Catholicism. Some of you may be surprised, but the patron saints of beekeepers actually exist!
There are references to honey and bees in the Bible to explain gluttony, pride, strength of character, health, and a promised land. It is present in scripture and liturgy that exhibits the importance of honey to early Christian society. Honey was used in certain rites, ceremonies of the Church, and Early Christian sacraments, such as baptism and communion, where they combined milk and honey.
Discover more about the patron saints of beekeepers! Read on to get to know them. (Read: 3 Italian Dishes Inspired by St. Francis Caracciolo)
St. Valentine was a 3rd-century Roman saint commemorated in Western Christianity on February 14, relating his name to Valentine’s Day. He is the patron saint of lovers, people with epilepsy, and beekeepers. It is believed that he provided aid to people who called on his intercession. Legends say he healed a blind woman when he was jailed for secretly marrying a couple during the Roman Empire when marriage was banned. St. Valentine helped ensure the sweetness of the season’s honey and gave special protection to those who keep bees.
According to ancient stories, when St. Ambrose was a baby, a swarm of bees landed on his face while sleeping in his cradle, leaving a drop of honey rather than a sting. His father was surprised and considered it a sign that St. Ambrose would be a great sweet-tongued preacher. For that reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint’s symbology. He is the patron saint of Milan and beekeepers. As a Milan bishop, biblical critic, and doctor of the church, he is known for his literary works and musical accomplishments. He is also remembered as the teacher who converted and baptized St. Augustine of Hippo. (Read: 3 Delectable Eclair Recipes To Honor St. Thérèse of Lisieux)
Among the patron saints of beekeepers is St. Abigail, commonly known as St. Gobnait or Deborah, a medieval Irish saint born around the 6th century. The church marked her challenging journey as she dedicated her life to pastoral service and Christian charitable work. Legends say she had a passion for bees and became a beekeeper. She even used honey to treat the sick and heal wounds, making her the patron saint of honeybees and beekeepers.