• Gary Cruice

A Saint for Cigar Smokers

Halloween has just passed as have Dia de los Muertos, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Being in a predominantly Catholic region, recent conversations have turned to the Saints (not the NFL version). Eventually we got around to, "who should be the Patron Saint for cigar smokers?"

We started with the folks at Saints for Sinners, but they were uncertain. A bit of digging led to Blessed Titus Brandsma. According to the Franciscan Media's Saint of the Day website, he is the Patron Saint of Tobacconists (with an interesting history concerning the Nazis, check it out).

Not every premium cigar smoker is a tobacconist, so more digging! We finally found this letter from a Cigar Aficionado reader! He seems to have a good answer - St. Pius X...

Dear Marvin,

I am a practicing Catholic, a cigar smoker and a devotee, like Fr. H Jay Setter, of the French horn and chamber music.

Reading of his defense of cigars as not being a vice, I was reminded of a story that a cigar smoking priest of the Diocese of Tulsa, who is now in training for the Vatican diplomatic corps, told me. When he was a seminarian in Rome, he learned that Pius X, who was the pope from 1903 to 1914, called a bishop onto the carpet to reprimand him for his scandalous misbehavior with wine, women and song, and to correct his wrongs patiently.

The pope offered the errant bishop a cigar from the papal humidor on his desk. The bishop declined the offer with the protestation, "I do not have that vice, Your Holiness," to which His Holiness replied, "If cigars were a vice, I would not offer you one, for you have quite enough vices already."

After his death, Pope Pius X was canonized a saint and is now known as St. Pius X. According to Catholic belief, a saint is a holy person who is now in heaven. Although Pope Pius X may not have become St. Pius X because he smoked cigars, smoking cigars apparently did not keep him from being a holy man who is now in heaven. Indeed, cigars may have helped him be holy.

Let us salute not only Fr. H but also St. Pius X, whom we may regard as the patron saint of us cigar aficionados.

T. Gavin King Claremore, Oklahoma

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