Patron Saint

On this page.....

What is a Patron Saint?

The Church believes that the Saints make intercession for us (pray for us) in heaven. Particular saints are often said to have a particular role in praying for a defined group or class of people. For example, St Agatha is the patron saint of people living with breast cancer (she had her breasts cut off as part of her torture and murder); similarly, St Nicholas is the patron saint of children (he saved three boys from being butchered during a famine, and also saved three girls from prostitution caused by thier poverty). Each parish church also has a patron saint, and the church is said to be "dedicated to" that saint. The patron saint is invoked at the consecration of the church, and where possible, relics of the saint are placed in the altar of the church.

Every saint has a special day of commemoration (their "saints day") on the same date each year. The "saints day" of a church's patron saint is said to be that churches "Patronal Festival", and it is a very special day of celebration. In the calendar of the Church of England we are instructed that each church's "Patronal Festival" ranks equally with the celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

Our Patron - Saint Gabriel

Gabriel is an angel - perhaps the most well known angel of all. He features in the traditions of many religions, including Christianity and Islam, as a messenger from God. It was Gabriel who told the Blessed Virgin Mary that God had chosen her to be the mother of his Son. It was Gabriel who told Joseph not to divorce Mary when he discovered that she was pregnant.

Gabriel is ranked as one of the Archangels of Christian tradition. Michael is the Archangel of God's heavenly host, that band of angels who fight the spiritual battles for good against evil. Raphael is the Archangel of healing, whose angelic band bring peace and health. Uriel is the Archangel of hope, whose ministrations help to turn situations around, and bring triumph out of adversity. Gabriel is the Archangel of God's heavenly messengers, the angels who are commissioned to establish contact between heaven and earth. The Bible is full of examples of angels coming to minister to men, and to bring them messages from God. The same is true of the holy books and stories of many other faith communities.

We also remember Gabriel and all the angels every year on their special feast day, 29th September. Officially known as the "Feast of St Michael and All Angels" or "Michaelmas", the celebrations often include Michaelmas Cakes, which are sponge fairy cakes with the tops cut off and fixed back on (using icing) like a pair of angel wings. In the secular world they are often called butterfly cakes, but in the religious world they are angel cakes.

Our patron saint is the great archangel Saint Gabriel

The Patronal Festival

For us, 29 September each year is our Patronal Festival, marked by special celebrations on the closest weekend, including a champagne reception and dinner party on the Saturday night, and a sung mass on the Sunday morning, with a special guest preacher, and coffee and cakes afterwards - including Michaelmas Cakes, when possible.

In recent years our Patronal Festival preachers have been:

Patronal Festival 2012 - left to right, Fr Paul (assistant priest), Bishop Lindsay (celebrant & preacher), Fr Timothy (parish priest), Fr Callan (assistant priest).

Patronal Festival 2021 - the parish clergy (sacred ministers) and altar servers, together with our preacher Father Simon Thorn (fourth from left).