St. Adjutor, Catholic Church's Patron Saint Of Swimmers

St. Adjutor, Catholic Church’s Patron Saint Of Swimmers

Courtesy of Arlington Catholic Herald.

In most open water swimming events, faith, prayer and God do not come into the equation, at least publicly. Conversely, in places like the South Pacific, Caribbean nations and the American South, faith is never hidden and prayers are publicly said before the start of many open water swimming events. At these events, the opening ceremonies are occasionally started by a prayer by a local minister or priest.

Swimmers like Stephen Redmond, the first person to complete the Oceans Seven, kneels down and prays intensely and fervently before his channel swims – and they continue to draw strength during their swims through a deeply held own faith and frequent prayer. Redmond recalled during his 22 hour 30 minute crossing of the Molokai Channel, “Never give up…too far to fail…swim Molokai…[a mantra] which I must have said millions of time to myself…along with many prayers to St. Jude…

In the Roman Catholic Church, St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. Sometimes being in the middle of a channel in the midst rough or cold conditions can seem – even for hardened swimmers like Redmond – as an adequately desperate cause.

Over 890 years ago, St. Adjutor was fighting on behalf of the Church, but was captured in Jerusalem. He was chained, tortured, and locked in a prison off the coast of Palestine. Miraculously, he escaped from his cell within a castle and, without hesitation, dove into the Mediterranean Sea and swam to shore where he ultimately joined his colleagues.

According to lore, St. Adjutor then became a Benedictine monk and lived his life in an abbey near the River Seine. Many boatmen had lost their lives in a nearby whirlpool. A local bishop and St. Adjutor later had the opportunity to sail towards the whirlpool. At the edge of the whirlpool, the bishop sprinkled holy water into the Seine while giving a blessing. When St. Adjutor said, “It is as easy for God to free people from this whirlpool as it was for him to free me from my chains,” the whirlpool immediately became calm.

After his death, St. Adjutor became the Catholic Church’s patron saint of swimmers, boaters and yachtsmen with a feast day on April 30th due to his death on the same date in the year 1131.

Copyright © 2008 – 2021 World Open Water Swimming Association