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As patronage (from the Latin. Patrocinium , counsel ' ), the patronage of a saint called or a saint, a device ( church , hospital is assumed School). The word is also used for the " solemn festival " or " patron saint ", on which the saint is celebrated, to whom the church is dedicated , the title saint . Usually the patronage determines the external and internal pictorial program .


In the old church it was initially the custom to implore the assistance of a holy martyr at the grave . By relics Translation it possible, Church building at any location in the altar ordination be provided with a relic; often the church was then also placed under the patronage of this saint. The relic was usually inserted into a recess in the altar . In addition to relics of saints, particles (e.g. of the Holy Cross ) or secrets of faith , such as the body or blood of Christ , the Sacred Heart of Jesus , the Holy Spirit or the Transfiguration , constituted a patronage. If a church is not consecrated to a saint but to a mystery of faith, it is also called a "titular feast".

In canon law it says: “Every church must have its title (titulus) , which cannot be changed after the consecration has been completed.” ( CIC c. 1218). The patronage of a church - the "title saint" - is thus final. However, in the course of time, the patronage could be replaced by a Compatron or Patronus secundarius , if the church received relics of a more important saint or a splinter from the Holy Cross or another saint seemed more in line with the spirit of the times.

Foundation of a patronage

You can sometimes tell from the patronage who financed a church. For example, merchants liked to donate churches with a St. Nicholas patronage, as this was the patron saint of merchants.

A Marian patronage goes hand in hand with the designation as Frauenkirche , Liebfrauen or Our Lady . In the early days of German colonization in the east, the first churches were often consecrated to St. Peter , and baptismal churches to St. John the Baptist . In some times or regions there were particularly venerated saints to whom numerous churches were consecrated. This applies, for example, to St. Anna , whose veneration gained in importance around 1500, as well as to numerous churches newly built in Germany during the Kulturkampf and consecrated to St. Joseph .

At the solemn festival of the respective patron saint, a patronage festival is celebrated in Catholic areas, usually with a procession . If a church is under the protection of more than one patron saint, there are co-saints in addition to the main saint (also “Konpatron”, Compatron, Patronus secundarius [“Second Patron ”]).


While the local patron saints and the church festivals associated with them have lost importance in northern and central Europe, this is often different in parts of southern Europe and in the Christian countries of the Third World .

Of the around 10,000 patron saints of parishes in Germany, around 1400 relate to Mary. But for some patrons only one parish is dedicated.


Patronage research in general

Regional studies

  • Herwig Ebner: Patronage card , in: Harry Kühnel (Red.): Romanesque Art in Austria (catalog for the exhibition in the Minoritenkirche in Krems-Stein, 1964). Österreichische Staatsdruckerei, Vienna 1964, p. 290.
  • Peter Ilisch, Christoph Kösters (arr.): The patron saints of Westphalia from the beginning to the end of the Old Kingdom . Aschendorff, Münster 1992. ISBN 3-402-03838-2 .
  • Franz Zarl: The settlement and Christianization of the quarter above the Vienna Woods in the light of folklore. Patronage research and toponymology. Dissertation, Vienna 1963.

Web links

Wiktionary: patronage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Alois Schröer: Patron, patroness, patronage . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 7 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1998, Sp. 1478 ff .
  2. Steffen Zimmermann: Parishes in Germany: These church patrons are unique. In: . July 10, 2020, accessed July 10, 2020 .