Saint Expedite

Boing Boing guestblogger Mitch Horowitz is author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation and editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin publishers.

Expediiii One of the most interesting aspects of folk religion in America is the enduring figure of Saint Expedite - a youthful, Roman-garbed saint barely tolerated or acknowledged within the upper echelons of the Catholic Church but the subject of loving circles of worship throughout Latin America and many parts of the United States. (I've encountered his statue in a Catholic Church in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.) Simply put, Saint Expedite is the patron of those who need help in a hurry: with jobs, relationships, money, etc. In Brazil, he is the venerated helper of people looking for work; in America, so says Wired magazine, he is the "patron saint of the nerds," i.e., a figure who can help untangle internet connections and the keep communications networks flowing; to church authorities he is merely an icon of "popular religiosity" who never historically existed.

The story of Saint Expedite's existence dates back to logs of martyrs kept in the Roman Empire, where the surname appears. Some speculate that the Saint Expedite cult got started when a box containing the statue of an unnamed Roman sentry got labeled "expedite" for shipping purposes and fell into the hands (and hearts) of a Paris convent. Whatever the case, church authorities step carefully around Saint Expedite, not wanting to alienate his devoted following among many Latin American Catholics; Saint Expedite is also a focus of devotion among practitioners of the African-American magical tradition called hoodoo, among some New Agers, and followers of Santeria.

For the story of Saint Expedite, check out and Wired magazine. I also write about him in Occult America.


  1. still better to worship a mislabeled piece of rock than a “real Saint” Cyril of Alexandria, murderer of Hypatia

  2. “an icon of “popular religiosity” who never historically existed.”

    Oh! You mean like Jesus!

  3. Fascinating. My upbringing was steeped in Catholicism and I’ve never heard of this guy, I guess because he’s not official. And they actually have statues in New Orleans and everything – I guess he’s just not big in the Northeast.

  4. I never thought I’d see Lucky Mojo on BoingBoing.

    You see him here in the grocery stores right along with Anima Sola and the occasional Holy Death (my personal favorite).

  5. I grew up in New Orleans and recall hearing the story of misattributing the saints name with lettering on the shipping box. In addition to St. Expedite there is also St. Fragile.

  6. Saint Expedite is also worshipped as “Saint Expédit” among the Creole population of Reunion Island, a small french island in the indian ocean.

    Altars and small chapels are built on the side of roads, always painted in red. People go there to ask for a favor, pray and make an offering (rum and cigarettes, if memory serves). If the wish is granted, they have to go and build another altar somewhere else.

    Here are some examples, on flickr :

  7. Well, maybe his biggest miracle is answering prayers without even EXISTING!

    That’s got to be the biggest miracle of all!

    But, of course, that’s honing in on God’s claim to fame.

  8. This is an delightful “life imitates art” parallel for the wonderful science fiction novel “A Canticle for Liebowitz”.

  9. For at least the first 1500 years or so of the Catholic Church, Saints were largely not endorsed by the Vatican and the recognition and development of Saints was mostly a local thing. Although the veneration and communion of saints was certainly part of the Catholic Church as a whole, a relatively few saints were recognized at the top levels.

  10. I love these horseshoe amulet lucky charms plastic sealed saint prayer cards for your doorway things. I picked up something similar at a roadside market in Mexico along with a red and gold painted clay devil figurine, and a couple little clay prostitutes with glittery dresses, cigarettes, and enormous clay breasts…

  11. I remember reading in the SAINT-A-DAY GUIDE, by Kelly and Rogers, that the church appropriated a saint from Asia. Someone pointed out to the church, later, that the stories they had heard (and had no record of) could be attributed to Buddha. They quickly crossed this new saint out.

  12. #8: Santita Muerte is the first thing I thought of when I saw this lol
    #15: lots of religious tradition (little of it Christian) has no problem with praying to or invoking a fictional construct, whether it’s St Expedite or friggin’ Cthulhu. The real issue isn’t whether they exist, it’s whether people believe in them enough to pray to them (and if so, how fervent and reality-changing that belief is).

  13. @21 Davegroff:

    Josephus is not without problems on the point of Jesus. The “Testimonium Flavium” was heavily modified (if not an wholly forged) some time between 240 and 324 AD.

  14. @25

    It’s an aphorism that Man creates God in his/her own image. Some schools of Neo-Pagan cosmology would assert that if enough persons believe strongly enough for long enough in any figure, the collective energy of their belief can create a new godform on the astral plane. If you sign on to that belief then St. Expedite certainly exists now as a metaphysical being capable of effecting change – regardless or whether he ever had an actual human existence.

    This theory also explains why Jedi mind tricks sometimes work for real.

  15. It seems a far greater stretch of the imagination to believe that Jesus did not exist.

    Some people come to church to pray, some to mock… some people stay home and shingle the roof.

  16. Malgas addressed Josephus.

    @Ito – curious as to why you would say that. On what basis does one measure what takes more or less imagination? If it is verifiable evidence, well…

    For almost all my life I took the historical Jesus as a given (though always denied his divinity) until a couple years ago when I started looking into and now I think its a hard call but forced to bet I would put my money on there not having been one.

    This is a basic primer for questioning the most commonly cited sources:

    It is far from perfect but definitely a start. My experience with academia and the world at large makes it very easy for me to believe that many will not push this issue for worry of blowback and that others overdo their push for it just for that reaction.

    At the end of the day, I sincerely doubt it matters if there was a jesus or if he was constructed from myth and/or the lives of others but it is an amusing diversion to explore

  17. Lizardman, entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, Sir William of Ockham.

    Recently, I heard some people express disbelief in the existence of a Lizardman (I’m not making this up, it was in Borders bookstore) and dismiss pictures and firsthand accounts as obvious forgeries. Similarly people who don’t want to believe in a historical Jesus can dismiss Tacitus – “Oh, he wouldn’t have used those words, it must be a forgery”.

    My daughter and I, however, do believe in the Lizardman. (^_^) Now I must beg pardon, but I am off to fix a roof!

  18. Would it actually make any difference if he (either of them) were based on real people? There were a lot of “Yeshuas” running around, and probably one or two got crucified. I think its safe to say none of them were born of a virgin or rose and walked after being dead for 3 days. Someone named “expedite” is probably more suspect, but hey, who knows?

  19. @Ito

    In matters of human behaviour, especially religious matters, the razor is often not the best tool as needless complications seem to be common. But for a simple & practical explanation the idea that men created a single figure out of many to exemplify principles and tell their story v the idea of one truly extraordinary man, I see history full of the former and with very few of the latter. But the view is probably different from your roof. I don’t dismiss Tacitus as forgery so much as I suspect he was simply parroting – he comes along too late anyway.

    As to those who doubt the existence of a Lizardman, I keep hearing there are more rather than none but I haven’t confirmed anything.

  20. There *is* a St. Fragile. She’s Italian, and the only know renditions are of her stocking-clad leg…

  21. In Spain, mostly in Seville and Madrid, you can find “huesos de santo” or “huesitos de San Expedito” (“saint bones” or “Saint Expedite’s little bones”), a fried mixture of flour, sugar and yolk with some icing sugar on top. They’re named after a story about some bones sent in a box to a convent in Paris with the word “spedito” (italian for “express mail”) written on it.

    But all this could not be true, you know.

  22. And then there’s Saint Return-to-Sender, patron of kids who chant “I’m rubber, you’re glue” whenever someone insults them.

  23. Thank you St. Expedite for helping me once again answering my prayers quickly, watching over my finances and bringing to me the opportunities in business as asked. LP

  24. There aren’t words enough in the world to express my gratitude to Saint Expedite. He helped me keep my job when I was in fear of losing it. His power and work are immeasurable. I have immense faith in him.

    Thank you Saint Expedite!

  25. Thank you, thank you, a million thank yous to Saint Expedite. I am forever grateful to your power, love and work.

    You are amazing.

  26. Honestly, I prayed to Saint Expedite everyday for a matter that I wanted a speedy result for. I have to say, I TRULY believed he worked in my favor. You can find a variety of prayers to Saint Expedite online, their pretty simple. Personally, I experienced AMAZING results by praying and putting my trust in Saint Expedite. Good luck to everyone out there who calls upon him for help!

  27. Thank you Saint Expidite for the lotto luck, it certainly cheered me up, blessings to you and me in this new year of my life, as my birthday is tomorrow, March 5th and I ask you to walk with me and teach me the ways.

  28. Thank you Saint Expedite for your speedy intervention to my problem. Your assistance has relieved my anxiety and eased my fears. I am eternally thankful and I praise your name.

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