by Victor Wanchena
Many religions include the concept of protectors; beings or spirits that watch over us mortals keeping us safe from the perils of the world. In the Catholic faith there are patron saints for different professions and activities. The idea being that these saints would guide and protect those in their patronage. Examples would be St. Thomas More, the patron of lawyers and civil servants. Or there’s St. Ambrose, the patron of bee keeping and candle makers. If I were a beekeeper, I would take a certain amount of comfort knowing that somewhere Ambrose is looking down on me making sure I don’t get stung too much. So it’s obvious that we, as riders, need a patron saint. But which one? There have been few 20th century saints, none of which have showed any interest in motorcycles. Looking back over time there have, however, been a few good candidates.
I searched the web a little and according to a couple of sites, St. Columbanus is the patron of motorcyclists. But why? He lived in the seventh century and was reported to be a thorn in the side for some bishops, but these don’t seem the qualifications for the patron saint of motorcyclists. In fact, the more I read about him the more curious as to why he was considered, at least by this website, our patron saint. I concluded that someone figured we needed one and just picked as obscure a saint as possible, hoping that some nosey newspaper reporter wouldn’t come snooping around.
An obvious choice might be St. Christopher. Long regarded as the patron saint of travelers, St. Christopher certainly would be an easy choice. Legend has it that Christopher carried people across a raging river. Nice thing for travelers, but this doesn’t do it for me. If we all were doing a lot of water crossings maybe St. Christopher might fit the bill, but most of us will never run bikes through a swollen creek.
There is always St. Fermin. Known as God’s fool, he was always doing crazy, off the wall things. This is among the reason he is the patron saint of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Everyone assumed that he was nuts. I do like his style and if alive today, he probably would have rode around on a scooter festooned with mirrors or some scary looking rat bike, complete with a set of bull horns across the front fender. But as much as I like St. Fermin, we know we aren’t fools for riding. It’s the rest of society that thinks that and views us as fools. No need to further that misnomer.
Then, there’s Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio. He lived in the 16th century in Mexico and helped to build roads there. In fact, the highway from Mexico City to Zacatecas he helped build is still used to this day. As I read it, seemed he was a hardworking, adventurous sort who would have been right at home on a motorcycle. So, it is with great fanfare—cue the trumpets—that MMM declares Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio the official patron saint of motorcycles, motorcyclists and all the things related to motorcycles. May he always help us keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.