Updated: Jun 3, 2022
There are few more powerful seasons and moments in a woman's life than those of pregnancy and birth. Cooperating with the creative power of God, a woman's body grows and brings a brand new, unrepeatable, eternal precious son or daughter of God into the world. It's a beautiful time to ask for the intercession of the saints for a healthy, happy, and holy pregnancy and birth. I've said it before and I'll say it again: God cares about our pregnancies and He cares about our births. We needn't hesitate to ask that they be profoundly blessed and we can confidently ask for the intercession of our brothers and sisters in heaven, that cloud of witnesses referred to in Hebrews, for extra grace during these times.
That cloud of witnesses are saints in heaven that surround us, see us, and cheer us on in the earthly race mentioned just afterwards. For those of us whose earthly race includes pregnancy and birth, then they absolutely want to cheer us on and pray for us during those times as well, perhaps especially so since Scripture also mentions those times for mothers as being part of our salvation (1 Timothy 2:15).
There are saints who because of the work in their earthly lives or after have a special significance to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. We believe that those in heaven are fully alive, fully perfected, and fully in Christ. That means they love and care for others even *more* than they did on earth. They see and can intercede even *more* than they did on earth.
The following are some of the powerhouse patrons of pregnancy and birth:
Our Lady of Childbirth
I've written about her more here but Mary is the quintessential saint and she is the quintessential mother. As our mother she longs to help us her daughters as we enter into our own motherhood. Under the title of Our Lady of Childbirth (also under the titles Madonna del Parto, Virgin of Childbirth, or Our Lady of a Happy Delivery), she is known to intercede for those who struggle with infertility and to help with healthy pregnancies and holy and happy births. This particular feast day of Mary is usually celebrated October 11 or in some places, the second Sunday of October.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne by DaVinci
Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, is often called on for healing infertility and she is also considered a patroness of pregnancy and women in labor. She was pregnant with Mary in old age. Unlike Our Lady, she had a normal conception, labor, and childbirth. Since Mary is our heavenly mother, in some ways we could consider Saint Anne our heavenly grandmother. Her feast day is July 26.
Visitation by Raphael
Saint Elizabeth, cousin of Our Lady, is also considered a patroness of infertility and pregnancy due to her miraculous pregnancy with Saint John the Baptist and her role in the Visitation when the unborn John leapt in her womb in the presence of Mary and Jesus. Perhaps she and Anne can also be especially sympathetic and helpful to those pregnant in "older" age and who get the esteem of entering a "geriatric pregnancy." Her feast day is November 5.
Saint Catherine of Sweden
Sankta Katarina by SalvenSaint
Catherine of Sweden is considered a patroness for pregnancy and against miscarriage. According to stories about her life, she was known to give counsel and prayer to mothers who had experienced miscarriage or who had complications with their pregnancies. Her feast day is March 24.
Saint Gerard is one of the most well known patrons of pregnancy and childbirth. There are several stories of him having miracles granted for women he knew that were pregnant or during birth during his life. Countless mothers attribute his intercession for a healthy pregnancy and birth, especially after infertility and miscarriage. His feast day is October 16.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe is called upon often for unborn children, a healthy pregnancy, and at the time of birth. When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego she wore the traditional Aztec black belt of pregnancy, signifying that she is bearing the baby Jesus within her. This apparition was also responsible for helping end the practice of infant sacrifice present in the Aztec culture. She would be an especially good patron for babies who are at risk in the womb or those whose mothers have been counseled or tempted to abort. Her feast day is December 12.
Saints Louis and Zelie Martin
The newly canonized Saints Louis and Zelie Martin are now among those considered patrons of pregnancy and birth. This is because out of their nine babies only five daughters survived to adulthood, three of the deaths occurring during infancy. Despite her fragile health and the tragic loss of those children, the couple remained open to life. All five of their daughters entered religious life. Their daughter Saint Therese is now a doctor of the Church and the others are being considered for canonization. Their feast day is July 12.
Saint Gianna Molla
Saint Gianna Molla was an Italian physician from the 20th century known for refusing the recommended abortion or hysterectomy to treat a uterine fibroma during her fourth pregnancy. She opted to simply remove the tumor in order to save the life of her child. She did not die of the fibroma found and removed from her uterus in the first trimester but actually died a week after birth due to complications from her cesarean surgery. Her heroic virtue was in part due to her willingness to spare her daughter's life during that first surgery rather than have a hysterectomy as the doctors advised (and which, morally speaking, some could view as permissible under the principle of double effect). This is one reason she is often called upon for difficult pregnancies and as an intercessor for childbirth. Her feast day is April 28.
Saint Brigid of Ireland
Saint Brigid by Tuohy
Saint Brigid of Kildare is, among many things, patroness of midwives and newborns. While much of her true life story is not verified, she is often called on for intercession during pregnancy, birth, and for babies because of this. I've written on her here and I've found her to be a powerful heavenly intercessor. Her feast day is February 1.
Saint Margaret of Antioch
Saint Margaret and the Dragon by Raphael
Saint Margaret of Antioch's story of being swallowed by Satan disguised as a dragon and spit up again prompted her to be named as a patroness of childbirth. (Yes, Catholics are weird. We know.) While the historical details are unclear, she was a virgin martyr from the fourth century and she is still considered a patroness of pregnant women, women in labor, childbirth, and nursing mothers. Her feast day is July 20.
Saint Raymond Nonnatus
Saint Raymond Nonnatus Crowned by Christ by Diego Gonzalez de la Vega
Saint Raymond Nonnatus (yes, from Call the Midwife fame) was a 13th century Spanish saint who was born by emergency cesarean section. Nonnatus was actually not his real name but a nickname given to him for that reason (meaning "not born"...clearly before an enlightened view of necessary cesareans ;) Because of the nature of his birth, he is considered patron of pregnancy, childbirth, midwives, obstetricians, and babies. He'd be a great patron especially for those women who know they will need to plan a cesarean birth. His feast day is August 31.
Our Miscarried Babies
By far one of the most powerful intercessors for a pregnant or laboring mother, in my humble opinion, are any children a woman may have previously lost to miscarriage or at any point of life. While we do not officially canonize them, the Church says we can "entrust them to the mercy of God" and we know that He is infinitely merciful. They can serve as the family's own personal and private patron saint and called upon for a healthy, happy, and holy pregnancy and birth for their younger sibling. How powerful those prayers must be! Giving names to those babies lost before birth and asking directly for their intercession during a future pregnancy and birth is a beautiful way to recognize their continued place in our families and allow them a role to play within them.
Okay, technically not saints but who better to ask for protection and help for both mother and baby than their guardian angels? According to Scripture and the teaching of the Church, every human being is assigned a specific angel from God to help protect them physically and spiritually. (FYI, you are never to ask for or assign your guardian angel a name!) From the moment of conception, we have an angel with us who loves us and wants to intercede for us. And that means from the moment of conception, every mother has two angels protecting her. Those angels can and want to pray for us throughout pregnancy and during birth.
I'm going to go ahead and claim Saint John Paul the Great who wrote and spoke so much about the beauty of the female body and motherhood as another perfect patron for pregnancy and birth. Also of note is Venerable Fulton Sheen who greatly venerated physical motherhood both in his writings and speech. Saint Anthony I have seen mentioned as a saint for infertility and pregnancy, however, I was unable to find the reason behind it. Invoking Eve, whose feast we celebrate on December 24 and who we believe was brought to heaven by Jesus on Holy Saturday, would also be a beautiful witness to the redemption of the pains of childbirth through the Incarnation and Passion.
INTERESTED IN PRAYING WITH A WHOLE LITANY FULL OF WOMEN SAINTS WHO EXPERIENCED PREGNANCY AND BIRTH??
The Made for This Birth Album also has an entire beautiful *25* MINUTE track containing a litany to mothers, almost FOUR HUNDRED canonized mothers from history who themselves gave birth. This stunning prayer can surround you in your pregnancy and even fill the room (or your earbuds!) during your birth.
It also has an entire track of quotes from various saints that can encourage, inspire, and strengthen you for the work of your pregnancy and birth.
The saints know us, love us, and can be a gift to us in pregnancy and birth, this important work of our vocation and salvation. Don’t waste this beautiful powerful gift and spiritual fellowship God offers for your pregnancy and birth.
For even more ways to experience pregnancy and birth through the lens and beauty of the Catholic Faith, I have just the book for that ;)
May the prayers of these saints - and all the saints - intercede for all pregnant and birthing mothers.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."