'Paying' the saints for their help

A recent e-mail conversation with Rose Weaver regarding saint work got me thinking and I would like to post something about the various ways of 'paying' saints for any work they do when you petition them. There is so much information about this on the various social networks and websites and a lot of it can be quite unreliable, frankly.

So firstly before we go into what to pay - it's important that you know you shouldn't 'overfeed' spirits by giving them too much too often (foodstuff and other things). Don't overfeed any spirit. That's one of the first things I was taught as an espiritista. It's counter intuitive because you think that if you ply a spirit with goodies they will favour you more. But for some reason it doesn't work that way. This well-meaning approach seems to make them 'lazy', which is to say, slow to get moving. Why bother if you get loaded with a ton of free stuff anyway, right? It's especially easy to get carried away when you first start with spirit work. I know I did.

You need to find a balance.

Keep it simple but always keep your word. If you promise X, give them X. And it doesn't need to be that extravagant. There will be times that you want to promise something big but that should be for those truly important things. And sure, you might want to make a general show of appreciation by doing or giving them something special once in a while and that's perfectly acceptable - but generally speaking it's better to keep it moderate.

With that side-point about overfeeding out of the way, lets look at the saints specifically:

Some saints certainly do have particular things that they like to receive as offerings (cake, money etc.) It's always good to research the saint you are working with and find out what their traditional associations/likes are and give them those things as payment. It sounds like common sense but a lot of people don't bother. What I see a lot of these days, and find quite irksome, is people simply posting "Thank you St. X!!" as a status update on facebook.

Seriously? You think the saints are on facebook reading status updates?

But I am "spreading their name and fame", I hear you say. Well, actually, only a few of saints are known to find that pleasing. How do we know? It's included in the catholic liturgies and prayers associated with them. I know that St. Expedite likes that, and probably St. Jude because he got a bad reputation due to his association with Judas the betrayer. Unless I am mistaken - there are at best one or two other saints who like publicity as thanks. As for the hundreds or thousands of other saints out there it just doesn't fit.

Also, it's kinda lazy. Traditionally you would publish a notice in a newspaper - but come on - a lousy facebook status update? (That reminds me - you should totally friend me on Facebook. Gordon says the age of blog is almost over and social media is where it's all going. I don't want to miss out). Your petition is fulfilled and all you can bring yourself to do is shuffle over to the computer in your pajamas and post a status update?!

I know I am going to get heat for saying this from all the facebook hoodoos who have popularised this practice but it has to be said: you can do better!

If you are entirely unsure what to offer the saint you are working with, rest assured all saints happily accept flowers. A nice bunch of flowers not only beautifies the altar it also raises the spiritual vibration of an area with its scent and freshness. You really can't go wrong there. Next, considering that these are saints - holy people canonised for their goodness and service - you could consider making a donation to a charity working in the area of their patronage.

This approach is definitely ratified by folk-catholic tradition too. Saint Anthony's Bread is an excellent example. This is a donation collected by churches in the name of St. Anthony and the money is then given to feed the poor. It is said that the practice started in 1263 after a child drowned near the Basilica while it was being built. Desperate, but strong in faith, the child's mother prayed to St. Anthony and promised that she would give to the poor an amount of corn equal to the child's weight if he returned the child to her. After hearing this promise St. Anthony restored the child to life and soon the practice of St. Anthony's Bread began.

Similarly, as thanks for granting your petition you could donate some time or money to a local addiction recovery program in the name of St. Jude, for instance. Or you could donate to a child protection program in the name of St. Michael. There are so many of these worthy charities that I can't think of a more wonderful, and magical, thing than to combine your saint work with kindness and service. Everyone wins!


  1. Hmm, overfeeding. I hadn't ever really considered that. If I think about it, I can see where I've definitely done this and seen the spirits strangely slow to act. I always learn something here.

  2. This is really interesting, I thank Saints, usually St Expedite on line. The whole point of it is to spread the name of that Saint and the glory of God. Surely if one person reads the status and asks "who is St X?" and learns about them and experiences them then this is no bad thing. I don't actually think St Expedite or any other Saint is sat in Heaven with a Mac book checking if they've been tagged in any posts.

    I totally agree that posting a single line thanks on Facebook is incredibly lazy and would, worse case scenario, result in that Saint doing no work for you again. Surely people are backing up these status's with the offerings promised, whether that be candles, flowers, wine or donations to causes. It's quite presumptuous to assume people aren't doing this as well.

  3. There is nothing presumptuous about it. The criticism is aimed at the practice of only posting a status update. Unless that particular shoe fits there is nothing to be getting defensive about.

  4. Excellent post! While I do confess to a line of thanks to St. Jude tucked within a post on Facebook, it was backed up by a much larger thank you campaign on variety of websites, some specifically for that purpose, others not. And as we discussed, I almost purchased flowers for my alter, but decided against it due to my cat. However, with your thoughts as added motivation, I'll figure out some way to thank St. Jude in this manner so that my furry friend can also enjoy them without shredding the poor things.

  5. No I said the age of the book is almost over! :)

    This fine blog, buddy, will last the ages.

  6. Hi, my name is Deb and I'm a spirit overfeeder. ;)

    Really useful post, thank you for sharing!

  7. @Rose Weaver: that sounds like a good way to go Rose! Let me know how it works for you. And thanks for the prompting this post with your thoughtful e-mail.
    @Gordon: *phew* THAT'S a relief! I really should read your posts more carefully... :)
    @Deb: LOL, welcome to spirit-overfeeders anonymous Deb!

  8. My family has a long association with a few saints, most particularly St. Anthony, St. Jude and St. Christopher. Before I knew any better, I always asked for help and usually received it in spite of offering nothing in return. Since I've become more knowledgeable, I've usually offered a small donation to an appropriate charity - and sometimes a big donation if what I'm asking is really difficult. I'm a frequent contributor to the Franciscan Friars, who administer St. Anthony's Bread, because there is no other saint with whom I have such a long and loving association. If I'm poor, I may only offer a dollar or two, but I put those into my St. Anthony's fund and send them off when I get up to about $20.00. St. Anthony was always responsive to me anyway, but doing this makes me feel better about my constant pestering and is an expression of my love for this wonderful saint. A couple times when I've been granted something important by Saint Michael, I've received a phone call on the same day from an organization raising funds for the local police. I consider that a tap on the shoulder, and always respond.

  9. Thanks for sharing these personal accounts of your experience with the saints, pogperson - fascinating!

  10. Lol@ shuffling over to the computer in your pajamas...posting thanks on FB or conjure groups! Laaaaazzzzzeeeee!