How the United States got its patroness

Msgr. Stuart Swetland is asked every once in a while who the patron saint of the United States is. On the anniversary of the declaration, he explained who the patron is and how it was formally declared.

“Every country, as far as I know, has a patron saint. You think, for example, of Ireland has St. Patrick and Italy has St. Joseph. And there are others associated, of course in Italy St. Catherine of Siena is very beloved throughout Italy and in some countries other saints are. We love Mother Seton here in the United States as the first American-born canonized saint,” explained Msgr. Swetland.

“But it was on [February 7] in 1847 that the pope at that time, Pius IX, formally approved a national patroness for the United States. The bishops of the United States—there were 23 at the time—gathered in Baltimore at the sixth council of Baltimore, had asked the pope to give us a patron saint and they had asked for it to be the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title the Immaculate Conception. And that was approved by Pius IX in 1847 … seven years before he proclaimed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. So America’s patroness is the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title the Immaculate Conception.”

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on December 8 (this year, transferred to Monday, December 9).

Prayer to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.