Maltese Catholics, don’t believe the hype: St Corona is not the patron saint of pandemics

Yes there is a St Corona, but she is not the patron saint of the COVID-19 pandemic

St Corona... the Internet is going crazy over claims that she is the patron saint of plagues
St Corona... the Internet is going crazy over claims that she is the patron saint of plagues

In times of sickness more than ever, it is understandable to seek divine intervention and protection. But the very human tendency to seek understanding and meaning by linking otherwise-unrelated issues sometimes leads to misinformation.

Such as some websites that are now running stories on St Corona, a martyr from the second century, touting her as a patron saint of those afflicted by infectious diseases. The appeal of a saint who shares a name with the deadly virus sweeping the globe is understandable but the information appears to be incorrect – the patron saint of pandemics is St. Edmund the martyr.

Of course, the name coronavirus is derived from the Latin corona, meaning ‘crown’ or ‘halo’, which refers to the characteristic appearance reminiscent of a crown around the virus particles when viewed under the microscope, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes.

And indeed there is a St Corona and her staunch faith was nothing short of inspiring. According to, which hosts short biographies of all Catholic saints, St Victor and St Corona died in Roman Syria during the reign of Marcus Aurelius in 170 A.D.

Victor was believed to be a Roman soldier. After his conversion to Christianity was discovered, other soldiers brought Victor to face judgement. The judge, wanting to make an example of Victor, ordered him to be bound to a pillar and whipped until his skin fell from his body. After the whipping, the judge ordered Victor’s eyes to be gouged out.

News about Victor’s cruel treatment reached a young girl named Corona. Corona is believed to have been the wife of one of the soldiers – possibly Victor’s – and a Christian herself, though she kept her faith a secret.

Hearing about Victor, Corona decided she needed to do something to help the dying man. She publicly announced her own Christianity and rushed to Victor’s side. She knelt next to him and prayed, letting him know he was not alone.

Corona was taken before the judge who immediately ordered her to be imprisoned and tortured. Corona was tied to the tops of two palm trees, which had been bent down to the ground.

At the judge’s command, the ropes holding the trees down were cut and the trees sprang away from each other and back to their upright position. The force was so strong that Corona’s body was torn in two.

Remains, believed to be of St Victor and Corona’s, have been in a basilica in the city of Anzu, Italy since the 9th century.

But while she may not be the patron saint to protect us from the COVID-19 outbreak, St Corona is the patron saint of treasure hunters, which may be something to cling to for the unscrupulous opportunists trying to cash in on the crisis by selling paper face-masks and hand sanitizer with eye-popping mark-ups… who are otherwise assured a hot place in hell by the rest of us.