It’s easy to assume that because the saints lived a life of virtue and achieved a level of spiritual perfection that they could never relate to us in our struggles, especially in marriage.
Many married saints seemed to have happy, healthy, holy marriages. However, there were many married saints who faced challenges in their vocation and even disunity with their spouse.
If you find yourself in a difficult marriage, look to these saints for guidance and for prayers:
St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine–a pagan turned Doctor of the Church, faced many difficulties in her marriage.
Her husband Roman pagan Patricius had a violent temper and often gave into licentious behavior. Monica’s mother-in-law, who shared his temper, also lived with them. Monica faced criticism for her faith and her piety from them.
She prayed for many years for both her husband and her mother-in-law before they both converted. Patricius died one year later.
The Church considers St. Monica the patron saint of wives and abuse victims, as well as troubled and difficult parents and alcoholics. Ask for her intercession with this novena.
Despite her deep desire to enter a convent, St. Rita’s parents arranged for her to marry Paolo Mancini, an unkind and impatient nobleman. Throughout their 18-year marriage, Rita experienced insults and abuse, and also her husband’s infidelity.
Rita prayed often for her husband’s conversion which happened finally on his deathbed.
At the age of 12, St. Elizabeth of Portugal married King Dinis, eight years her senior. Before they consummated their marriage several years later, Dinis had a string of mistresses and at least 7 illegitimate children.
Elizabeth did not give in to jealousy, bitterness, or anger, and often helped make peace among the family when conflicts arose.
She is the patron saint of brides and healing family rifts; her prayers are also often invoked against feelings of jealousy. Ask St. Elizabeth of Portugal for prayers of healing in your own family.
The Church also calls upon St. Thomas More as a patron for difficult marriages; however, while he is a married saint, the patronage comes not from his own marriages (he remarried after the death of his first wife) but from the difficult marriages of King Henry VIII.
Thomas served as Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII. Shortly after the appointment, Henry expressed his desire to break his marriage to his wife Catherine to obtain a male heir for the throne and ran into conflict with the Church. Recognizing the validity of their marriage, Thomas refused to sign a letter to the Pope over the matter.
When Henry then broke away from the Church and declared himself head of the Church of England, Thomas bravely refused to recognize the King’s authority in this way. St. Thomas More died a martyr for his convictions.
Pray to St. Thomas More for help in resolving marital problems with this novena.
While obviously not in a difficult marriage with the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph remains a powerful intercession for every couple, especially in times of great need.
The Litany of St. Joseph calls upon him as the “Pillar of families” and “Support in difficulties” and given his desire for all families to imitate the Holy Family, he would love to help you and your spouse. As the earthly father of Christ, St. Joseph’s prayers are extremely efficacious.
Give your burdens to the Lord so that He can bring about new life in your soul and in your relationship.