At the time I write this, my group of seventh graders has narrowed down the pool of saintly candidates to three as we move toward electing a patron saint for our classroom. The finalists are St. Mary, St. Francis Xavier, and Blessed Miguel Pro. Mary is polling as the current leader, but who knows what the final tally will say.
You may recall that when I originally shared this activity of electing a patron saint, the idea was to explore lives of various saints and narrow the pool to two. But there was a tie when the primary votes were cast, and so I allowed three candidates on the final ballot. From what the young people have shared, I believe Francis Xavier made the cut because students liked the idea that he traveled to Asia. Mary was a familiar name as the mother of Jesus, and Miguel Pro appealed to several students for his shared Mexican heritage with them. One girl even commented that she thought her father carried a card with Miguel Pro’s picture on it in his wallet, which drew her to him instantly.
On our way to selecting our final three nominees, we had selected a slate of candidates that included St. Clare, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. John Vianney. I invited the young people to explore the profiles of the saints by completing an adapted version of the Profiles of Saints handout available as part of this All Saints Day lesson plan.
My idea for having the young people create campaign posters wasn’t as successful as I would have liked. I didn’t allow enough time for the project, and this group didn’t take to the creativity of making up slogans, so the posters were unfinished and uninspiring.
Now that we’re close to choosing our class patron, I’m thinking about how we might incorporate the winner into our sessions. Mary would be easy to integrate, since she’s already a part of the narrative as we explore the life of Christ. Natural ties to Advent and Christmas and the Passion and Resurrection lessons already exist, and there would be opportunities to talk about some Marian apparitions through the year. St. Francis Xavier would have ties to sessions on missionary discipleship, and we could use the Prayer to St. Francis Xavier to ask for this patron’s intercession. Both Xavier and Miguel Pro were Jesuits, so conversation about holy orders or Ignatian-inspired themes and prayers, like the Examen, would give pathways to talk about these holy men. As the most contemporary candidate in our pool, Miguel Pro would also serve as an example of a modern martyr, and I’ve found on multiple occasions that the stories of the martyrs grab the attention of seventh and eighth graders.
No matter who wins our saints election, I’ve told my students, we can be proud to call any of these candidates our patron saint; they are all good role models for living a Christian life.
Do you choose a classroom patron saint? How else do you learn about the saints with your students?