Athletes participate in a range of physical activities and sports at all kinds of levels. Some just do it for the fun and others dedicate their lives to their sport. The more competitive the sport is, the more often they face intense physical pressure. They are exposed to a higher risk of injury, both on and off the field, due to the nature of their game. There can also be many non-physical, external stressors, like pressure to perform and criticism. Athletes try to take care of their health and mental wellbeing through proper training, nutrition, injury prevention measures and mental preparation and toughness.
For many athletes, there is also a spiritual side to sports. Spiritual protection can provide a sense of inner peace, emotional stability, and mental strength, which can help them to focus on their performance and reach their goals. It helps them to connect with something greater than themselves, to tap into a source of guidance and support, and to cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives and bring perspective into their life as an athlete.
Who is the Patron Saint of Sports & Athletes
There are many Saints related to specific sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, football and hockey but for sports and athletes in general, the most well-known Patron Saint of Sports and Athletes is St. Sebastian. Another Saint often sought after for sports is St. Christopher. And while he is not technically a Patron Saint of Sports, I like to include Pope St. John Paul II for athletes.
St. Sebastian was a fervent Christian who joined the Roman Army not because he was inclined to the military life but rather to help persecuted Christians and to evangelize prominent Roman citizens. When the Emperor Diocletian discovered Sebastian was a Christian, he ordered archers to shoot him to death. When one of his friends went to recover his body, she discovered that he was miraculously still alive. She nursed him back to health and instead of running away, he chose to face Diocletian in person and denounce the Emperor’s persecution of Christians. Diocletian ordered Sebastian be taken prisoner and beaten to death and then thrown into the sewer. Athletes like to invoke him because his reputation for being a strong, resilient, and enduring figure. He symbolizes the values of courage, perseverance, and faith which are also qualities that many athletes strive to embody in their own lives.
St. Christopher is not directly connected to sports or athletes but is often sought after by youth athletes all over the world. Even though he is typically considered the Patron Saint of Travelers, he is invoked for protection and guidance at many sporting events. His legend is easy to understand, which makes him popular among kids, and likely his connection to keeping travelers safe connects with committed athletes because they are always traveling to games far and wide.
Pope St. John Paul II is included here, partly because I got a chance to be in the same room as he, so he is one of my favorite Saints, but mostly because he was an avid sportsman and athlete. He grew up in Poland and loved playing soccer, hockey and skiing. As a kid, he was nicknamed “Lolek the Goalie.” Later in life as Pope, he addressed the Milan soccer team saying, “In a world in which we sometimes behold the painful presence of young people who are weary, marked by sadness and negative experiences, be for them wise friends, expert guides and trainers not only on sports fields but also on the ways that lead to the goals of the true values of life. In this way to the satisfactions of competitive sport you will add merits of a spiritual nature, offering society a valuable contribution of moral health. May the Lord Jesus grant you that ‘goal,’ that is, that final target, which is the true and ultimate destiny of life.” May Pope St. John Paul II be a guide for you or your young athlete.
Click here for our list of Patron Saints.
Prayers for Sports & Athletes
Prayer Before a Sports Game
God our Father, You have created us to strive for the best. Grant to all athletes, coaches, and fans, strength to pursue excellence during this event, and in all that we do. We pray for the safety of these athletes; Protect them from injury and harm. And finally, we pray for your grace, that you would provide us with the endurance to pursue our heavenly prize: eternal life in Your Son. Amen
St. Sebastian Prayer for Athletes
Dear Commander at the Roman Emperor's court, you chose to be also a soldier of Christ and dared to spread faith in the King of Kings, for which you were condemned to die. Your body, however, proved athletically strong and the executing arrows extremely weak. So another means to kill you was chosen and you gave your life to the Lord. May athletes be always as strong in their faith as their Patron Saint so clearly has been. Intercess for us we pray, that our faith may imitate yours and that God may protect us as we seek to use the gifts He has given us to glorify Him this day. Amen.
Related Patron Saint Jewelry and Rosaries
Buy some beautiful St. Sebastian, St. Christopher or St. John Paul II jewelry to keep you or your loved one close to the patron saint of sports and athletes and be a symbol of your faith.