As an unabashed atheist, I suppose I shouldn't have much time for so-called saints (many of whom were far from saintly), but I must admit that the devout sceptic in me always had something of a soft spot for St Thomas (of Doubting fame).
If ever we sceptics deserved a patron saint, then St Thomas would surely be our man: "You tell me Jesus has risen from the dead," said Thom to his colleagues. "Well I'm not buying it until I see some hard evidence." What a guy!
Anyhow, I only mention patron saints because yesterday I came across the following item on the BBC News website:
The Russian Orthodox church in Alaska is claiming a resurgence in a faith that most people predicted would die out. When Russia sold Alaska to America for $7.2m in 1867 it left little trace on the state—except its religion.
Speeding across calm blue waters we head with pilgrims from around the world towards one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most holy places. But this is not Russia - it's Alaska.
Spruce Island, off Alaska's south coast, was made famous by St Herman, America's first Orthodox saint.
He and other monks brought orthodoxy to Alaska in 1794, several decades after the Russians conquered this land…
I must admit, I was fascinated to learn that there is a strong(ish) Russian Orthodox church presence in the northernmost of the United States—but not nearly as fascinated as I was to learn that there is actually a St Herman (actually, it turns out there are several). What a totally cool name! And a quick Google image search revealed that St Herman was a bit of a dapper dude.
Awesome beard, Herm! From now on, you're joining my (small) personal collection of patron saints.
Every atheist should have one.