The Church officially recognizes the Blessed Virgin, honored in her Assumption (celebrated on August 15), as the principal patroness of France, as well as two secondary patronesses: Saint Joan of Arc (May 30) and Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus (October 1). Saint Michael the Archangel (celebrated on September 29) was adopted by the French monarchy as one of the principal patrons of France. Other saints such as King Saint Louis and Bishops Saint Denis, Saint Remi and Saint Martin are also the protectors of France.
In 1922, Pius XI proclaimed Mary patroness of France. The special protection over France of the Queen of Heaven, the eldest daughter of the Church, is not new. Starting at the dispersion of the apostles in the early days of the Church, France was evangelized by faithful disciples of the Lord (Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalene in particular), they carried with them devotion to the Virgin. The whole history of France was then deeply marked by devotion to the Mother of God, and consecrations have been repeated over the centuries. In 1638, Louis XIII officially consecrated France to Mary. France then obtained the long-awaited prince, Louis-Dieudonné, the future Louis XIV. Over the last two centuries, France has benefited from a large number of Marian apparitions, which bear witness to the great love that Our Lady brings to this country and to the mission that she has to other nations as the eldest Daughter.
In 1922, Pius XI proclaimed in a letter: Mary principal patroness of France and Joan of Arc, second patroness of the first born daughter of the Roman Church". This double patronage is irreversible, which means that no authority can call it into question in the future. Saint Joan of Arc, the "Pucelle of Orléans", is legitimately chosen as patron saint of France. This girl of exceptional destiny gave her throne back to the King of France and liberated her country from the English. Considered by all as a heroine, Joan of Arc, who had inscribed the names of Jesus and Mary on her standard, is above all a saint, as witnessed by the many miracles obtained over the centuries by her intercession. Canonized 500 years after her death, the centuries have reinforced the brilliance of her holiness and the devotion she has received has never ceased to multiply. This is witnessed by the countless crowds, full of fervor, who gathered in Rome to proclaim her a saint.
“Saint Joan of Arc, your martyrdom is the great victory of God over our enemies. Intercede, from the Kingdom of Heaven, that we may be preserved from wars against our country and assaults against our Faith. May France remember that she is the eldest Daughter of the Church. Lord, we thank You, for You have blessed our country by giving us Saint Joan of Arc. Stimulate many more vocations to keep the apostolic mission of France intact. God, who chose Saint Joan of Arc to defend our country against the invader, grant us, through his intercession, to work for justice and live in peace. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
On May 3, 1944, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, secondary patron of France, as Saint Joan of Arc. Through this, the pope wants to spread "the affectionate and famous worship by which the French honor her." This proclamation came at a time when France, occupied by the Germans, was in great danger. A month later, the Americans landed in Normandy, a few kilometers from Lisieux. For Pius XII, there is no doubt that little Thérèse saved France. In November 1944, he wrote to the Carmel of Lisieux: "Saint Teresa has responded in recent weeks, as only the great friends of God can, to the trust we placed in her by assigning to her, together with the liberator of Domrémy, the patronage of your dear homeland, under the superior aegis of Our Lady, in the mystery of her Assumption. This astonishing deliverance of France is undoubtedly one of those blows from Heaven, as history has recorded more than once in this privileged nation for its religious glories and providential vocation. ”
The patronage of Archangel Michael over France dates back to Clovis. The archangel rescued him during the battle of Tolbiac, and Pope Anastasius declared Saint Michael Prince of the Frankish people and asked this heavenly protector to guard the Franks and help them in the fighting. In 708, Saint Michael appeared to the bishop of Avranches (Normandy), the future Saint Aubert. The archangel asked him to build a church in his honor on Mount Tomb, which became the famous Mount Saint Michel, a source of many graces for France. In 1424, the archangel Michael appeared to Saint Joan of Arc at Domrémy and said to her: “I am Michel, the protector of France,” confirming the role that has been attributed to him for centuries. The worship of Saint Michael developed and spread in France, making the archangel the historical defender of France.
Louis IX (1214-1270), commonly called Saint Louis, was king of France for 43 years. He is already considered a saint in his lifetime and canonized only 27 years after his death. The only king of France to have been canonized, France chose Saint Louis as patron and protector, and he is celebrated on August 25.
Prayer of Saint Louis for France
Almighty and Eternal God, who established the empire of the Franks, to be in the world the instrument of your Divine Will, the sword and shield of your Holy Church, we pray you, forever and everywhere warn of your Heavenly Light, the supplicant sons of the Franks, that they may see what it is necessary to do to realize your Reign in this world and that to accomplish what they have seen, they may be filled with charity, strength and perseverance through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (from a Carolingian missal, Father de Foucauld's favorite prayer).
These three bishops are all venerated as protectors of France.