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Top 10 Catholic Saints with Outlandish Origins

In today’s world, the procedure of a Catholic becoming a saint is rather uniform. You can be adored if you devote your life to the church and fill it with good acts and moral activities such as feeding the needy or caring for the sick. Then it’s merely a matter of dying, answering a prayer while in Heaven, providing a verifiable miracle (typically a miraculous cure), granting another, and bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing bing b … With a few exceptions, the tales of modern saints tend to mix together since they all followed this road.

The procedure was anything from regular a millennium or two ago. People became saints for a variety of causes and lived every sort of life under the sun before becoming saints — some good, some less so, some pacifists, and some like religious John Wicks. This, paired with a healthy dose of hagiography in some circumstances, results in some fantastic saintly origin tales. Here are 10 Catholic saints with unusual beginnings.

10. Saint George, the Dragon-Slayer

Saint George (who lived in/around the third century) is remembered in hazy and contradictory tales from numerous sources, as are many early saints. All indications point to George joining the Roman military, rising through the ranks to become a high-ranking officer.

When the Roman emperor began persecuting Christians, George personally approached the emperor and told him where to put his persecution.

The accounts of his following torture differ greatly, but one constant is that George’s religion remained unwavering throughout his ordeal, and his unwavering dedication encouraged millions to convert, including the Roman emperor's wife Alexandra. His fame expanded throughout the decades as he died as a martyr. Eventually, a narrative arose in which he slayed a powerful dragon, and it’s evident who inspired Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher after hearing the account.

9. Saint Magnus, The Viking Raider

Most people’s first thoughts of a saint are of someone from Italy, France, Portugal, or Germany, but what about someone from Norway — specifically, an old Norse Viking? Saint Magnus Erlendsson was born on the Orkney Islands, a Scottish island that had been subjugated by Norse Vikings at the time. Magnus was from a line of pirates who raided and conquered the future British Isles, yet he was a modest, polite, and devout Christian.

This caused him to clash with his vengeful relatives, and he was finally killed by his cousin Haakon Paulsson. His legacy on his family and society did not end with his death; for example, his nephew Sigurd is credited with becoming the first European king to personally join in a crusade to the Holy Land.

8. Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian was so calm that his Roman assailants had to murder him twice to get the message through. Sebastian kept his Christian faith hidden for most of his life in order to survive and accomplish good Christian acts. And he was great at it. Sebastian converted numerous convicts to Christianity while serving as a prison guard/soldier, and finally converted the prison warden himself, who subsequently released all of his captives.

The emperor ultimately discovered him and condemned him to death. Sebastian was chained to a tree and arrowed by a firing squad. He made it out alive and, like a true gangster, went directly back to the emperor to scold him. He was then beaten to death, but hardly many persons have the distinction of being “murdered twice.”

7. Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher, according to mythology, began his existence as the one enormous henchman that every evil guy in a ’80s movie had. He was 7'6" tall, wore a perpetual scowl, and served for Canaan’s king. Christopher, dissatisfied with his management style, set out to find the finest king he could find.

He went to the greatest human monarch first, but after seeing the king’s dread of the Devil, he concluded that the Devil must be far more powerful. Christopher planned to serve a local criminal who called himself the devil, but he soon discovered that this ‘devil’ was afraid of the image of Christ. So, Christopher reasoned, Christ must be the genuine alpha dog. And he was absolutely correct. He was also visited by Christ Himself in the appearance of a kid, who complimented his excellent efforts, as he was working to serve God. You have to admire Christopher for trying every brand of king before settling on the perfect one.

6. Saint Moses the Black

Moses the Black was essentially a career criminal — a serial robber and murderer — who came to Christianity by chance. Moses was conducting one of his typical home thefts in the 4th century when the owner was alerted by a barking dog on the property. Moses withdrew, frustrated, and resolved to return, try again, and turn the heist into a killing this time.

Moses was forced to flee and hide after the dog notified the owner once more. Moses sought refuge in a Christian monastery to avoid being discovered by authorities. And it was there that he fell in love with their way of life. He became a monk, gradually finding redemption, and finally allowing himself a poetic death by bandit attack.

5. Saint Elmo

These days, Saint Elmo is most known for being the name of a meteorological phenomena as well as the worst John Hughes film. But his life was littered with legendary acts of bravery that deserve to be remembered in the same way.

Elmo was tortured and imprisoned for his beliefs the first time, and an angel assisted him in escaping. He was tormented the second time by being imprisoned in a spike-filled barrel and thrown down a hill, but an angel healed his wounds and let him free. He was set on fire for the third time and survived, after which he was imprisoned but managed to flee. Saint Elmo’s fate was sealed after yet another capture, torture, and this time the wrapping of his intestines around a pole outside of his body.

4. Saint Quiteria

The Nonuplet Sisters were nonuplets, and Saint Quiteria is the most notable of them. Their mother, who despised them from the moment they were born, had a maid drown them in a river. The maid felt sorry for them and got them a new place to live. When they grew older, they all converted to Christianity and refused to marry the Roman suitors who had been promised to them. They were imprisoned in a tower for this, yet they avoided the dreadful destiny once more.

Following this, the nine sisters conducted a “guerrilla battle” against Roman soldiers, hiding in mountains and hitting hard before disappearing. Quiteria was the leader of nine similar female Robin Hoods, and while this isn’t the only reason she was named a saint, it’s by far the coolest.

3. Saint Joan of Arc

Only A) real demon-people, or B) those who were a few hundred years ahead of the social/moral curve were martyred by being burned at the stake at the age of 19. The latter is Joan of Arc. Joan had visions from a trio of saints when she was 13 years old, and they convinced her that it was her sacred destiny to vanquish the English and drive them out of France. The odd thing is, she was a key player in achieving that goal. Within a year following Joan’s entry into the Hundred Years War between England and France, the fight had shifted from an English to a French advantage. She was a charming, strategic, and daring leader who led French forces to a series of battlefield wins.

2. Saint Agatha of Sicily

Agatha of Sicily had the most difficult life of anybody on this list, having been tortured and imprisoned almost continuously from her adolescence until her death. But she never wavered in her faith, making her narrative both tragic and triumphant.

Agatha followed a rigid vow of virginity from the age of 15 until her death five years later, which enraged the Roman official who desired her affections. The official tormented her, then imprisoned her, tortured her again, then imprisoned her again for refusing to submit to his advances. And she never yielded to his solicitations, nor did she compromise her pledge of virginity or trust in God. Despite inhumane levels of pain, she died in jail, having never given up. What else will get you into Heaven’s V.I.P. section if not that?

1. Saints Perpetua and Felicity

Although there are two saints, their tales are so linked that we’ll group them together. Felicity was Perpetua’s slave, yet their relationship appeared to be more pleasant and equal than the master/slave dynamic indicates. In brief, bigoted Romans discovered both ladies to be Christians and condemned them to death. Felicity was supposed to be spared the death penalty since she was pregnant at the time. Felicity gave birth just days before Perpetua’s execution, putting her back on the (figurative) chopping board.

The Romans intended to have a wild cow crush the two ladies to death (for some reason). They were torn apart by the animal, but they managed to escape. As a result, a Roman soldier stabbed each of them in the back with his sword. Perpetua was slightly injured, whereas Felicity died instantaneously. She took the blade from her chest, placed it around her neck, and slashed it herself, guaranteeing that no one but herself could control the conditions of her death.


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