Unlikable saints?


Whenever reading accounts of the saints, we more often than not seem to hear of how beloved they were by those around them. Sure, some saints had their share of enemies, and experienced negativity from others, but for the most part they were loved, liked, and even admired by those around them.

So I was wondering…are there any saints who were generally disliked by others?

I do not mean saints who had a few enemies…I mean saints who just had no friends period? Or few friends if any? Saints who people as a general rule did not like them.



St. Jerome, a famous early bible scholar and translator, was also famed for his abrasive personality: “Perhaps because of his wide exposures to many people and travels, he developed a pugnacious and cantankerous disposition at times. His keen intellect could be contentious when his vision of truth differed from others. Jerome was a passionate lover of biblical, written expression. His ill-nature, that all creatures possess due to original sin, was forever attacking, challenging and defending his pursuit of scriptural expression.”

Reminds me of many who post to Catholic Answers forums!


St. Jerome was a pain in the arse.


The Christian way of life is such that fellowship and peace with the rest of the Mystical Body is very important–there really aren’t any loner saints–even the stylites, anchorites, and hermits were not completely cut off. Plus, while holiness will earn much of the world’s scorn, it will also bring love. And yes, even St. Jerome had great admirers and friends (Pope St. Damasus I being chief among them).

Plus, one the first steps to being considered a Saint is a popular cult.

That being said, these are the best examples I could think of:

St. Benedict Joseph Labre and St. Rosalia


Padre Pio was generally known to have a sour disposition.


Thank you for the replies!

I guess I was referring more to people who, for whatever reason, just did not have many friends. Not that they were cut off from others, or mean to others, or not at peace with others, but just for whatever reason, had few friends.

I think the best non-saint example I can think of is the guy in “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin. Everyone disliked him and thought ill of him, but it turned out he was actually a really good person who just had bad social skills…and the guys they liked so much, turned out to be jerks.

I guess I was wondering if there were saints like that - who were active but judged ill for whatever reason, and so had few friends.


Didn’t St. Nicholas (yes Santa Claus) deck another bishop at a council? Seems he was fairly sour.


He punched the heretic Arius.


There was rejoicing in the streets of rome upon the death of Pope St. Zosimas.


St Igantius of Loyola was quite the character.


Oh yeah, thats right. I knew Santa couldn’t have been a bad guy!


At the start of his conversion… St. Francis of Assisi… was thought to be “off his rocker” by the towns people. They thought he was a lunatic, for renouncing his father’s name and his own inheritence… etc. They shunned him, big time! Especially… when they learned he was keeping company with the lepers!

Of course, he became greatly beloved later. But it wasn’t so… at first.

These “unlikeable saints” give us great hope… do they not? God bless.


On St. Jerome, borrowed from this blog.

The Thunderer
[size=2]From “Times Three”[/size] by Phyllis McGinley:

[size=2]God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar[/size]
[size=2]Was Saint Jerome,[/size]
[size=2]The great name-caller[/size]

[size=2]Who cared not a dime[/size]

For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.

A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.

But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.


Great poem on St. Jerome! Made me chuckle.


If you mean unliked rather than unlikeable - I think St Germaine Cousin de Pibrac qualifies - she was much mistreated and abused, and I don’t think had any friends (surely they would’ve helped her out if she had had).


This thread reminds me of the time, about twenty years ago, when I was complaining to a priest friend that I just didn’t have a sweet and loving temperament of a certain woman in our church whom I idolized. I worried that I would never be the “good, Catholic woman” of my own dreams. He laughed and said that there were saints who were cantankerous, and that you did not have to have one particular personality in order to be a potential saint. Then he mentioned one particular saint. I’ll bet it was St. Jerome!

What a relief!!!


The only examples I can think of of those who had no ‘friends’ at all would be the various hermit saints. In particular, the Carthusian saints.

None are named, because the Carthusians live in total obscurity, their order’s charism is to make saints, not to tell people about them. If they publish devotional work, it’s published anonymously, they are buried in unmarked graves.

I am told of one story by a man who was a Carthusian novice, there was a brother in a Charterhouse in Spain who was asked to go and dig a grave for a recently departed brother. His spade hit something soft and squishy, even though it was the ‘oldest’ end of the graveyard, nobody had been buried there for maybe a hundred years. He pulled away the soil and found an incorrupt body. He went running to the abbot, shouting “we have an incorrupt saint, we have an incorrupt saint!” The abbot raised an eyebrow, and said, “fill in the hole and dig a few feet to the left of him.”

There are only 4 named Carthusian saints, all founders or martyrs, the rest are in obscurity in this world. All the same, you can be sure there is power in heaven if you ask “All Carthusian saints, pray for us”.


Another example of a saint who was extremely unpopular was St Athanasius. As a bishop, he was exiled from his diocese 5 times, and was nearly the only person in the Church who didn’t follow Arius in believing Jesus to be less than fully God (even the Pope at the time wasn’t sure one way or the other). He had the Roman authorities AND the rest of the Church on his case for most of his life, but his steadfastness saved orthodox Christian doctrine!


yes… priestsforlife.org/testimony/castello.html


‘Nearly the only person’? A bit of an exaggeration. Certainly a vast majority of bishops and laity were Arian at one point, but none of the Popes, it seems, apart from Liberius, even flirted with Arianism. And a number of bishops of the time - Sts Basil, Hilary, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, among them - steadfastly upported Athanasius’ views.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.