Column: Hey, L.A. politicians — I know just the patron saint for you

Santo Niño de Atocha
A figurine of Santo Nino De Atocha, left, is displayed in the window of a botanica along Cesar Chavez Boulevard in Boyle Heights. The Virgin of Guadalupe is behind Santo Niño
(Luis Sinco)

In the summer of 2020, just before FBI agents arrested Jose Huizar at his Boyle Heights home on charges of public corruption, the then-Los Angeles councilmember posted an image of a saint on Instagram.

Santo Niño de Atocha is the big-hatted patron saint of prisoners and the wrongly accused, as well as the Mexican state of Zacatecas, where Huizar was born and where my family is from.

Huizar’s public plea to Mexican Baby Jesus to save him drew scoffs across Los Angeles. Now, he’s at it again.


After a 2½-year silence on Instagram, Huizar uploaded an image of another Catholic saint on Sunday night.

Whatever prayers the disgraced politician offered to the Santo Niño haven’t worked. His brother recently pleaded guilty for lying to federal agents about receiving envelopes of cash from the councilmember and plans to testify against him.

This time, Huizar chose St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes.

St. Jude, typically depicted as a bearded man with a flame over his head, wearing a white robe and green cloak with a staff in one hand and a medallion of Jesus in the other, is everywhere in Southern California — shirts, murals, window decals, statues, pendants and so much more.

Who knows if St. Jude will bother with Huizar’s shoutout. Besides, there are other Los Angeles politicians, Catholic and not, who need plenty of divine help on election day and beyond.

To them, I offer the following saints:

Dorothy Day: The founder of the Catholic Worker lay movement is not yet a saint, though admirers have spent decades arguing her worth to the Vatican.

Famously an advocate for the poor and against the idle rich, she once wrote a letter to a friend about efforts by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers to offer low-cost health clinics and community kitchens on their Forty Acres property.


“How many families of farmworkers during this long struggle could be set up this way on church property,” she wondered before following up with, “Forgive me for being so presumptuous, but Christ’s words are so clear — ‘Sell what you have and give to the poor.’”

How many times has L.A. mayoral candidate Karen Bass implied that her opponent, billionaire developer Rick Caruso, should do the same?

Catholic Worker Hippie Kitchen in Los Angeles
Matt Harper is the organizer of the Hippie Kitchen on skid row, run by Los Angeles Catholic Worker, which feeds the hungry three times a week.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

St. Monica: The city of Santa Monica is named after her, and Caruso is a member of her parish in — you guessed it! — Santa Monica. She’s the patron saint of mothers, most famous for shedding many tears over her son, St. Augustine, during his wayward years.

Caruso’s campaign has been one giant weep-a-thon about the state of Los Angeles. He hopes his tears — dried off with over $100 million in campaign spending — are enough to convert Angelenos to his cause, much as Augustine finally became a Catholic.

St. Simeon Stylites the Elder: In the 5th century, this Syrian ascetic climbed up a pillar with a tiny home on top of it. For over 30 years, St. Simeon inhabited taller and taller pillars, with the last one reputed to be at least 50 feet high.


Anyone seen Councilmember Kevin de León recently?

Virgin of Guadalupe: For generations, Mexican activists have carried her resplendent image in marches and protests on both sides of the border. The Empress of the Americas and the patron saint of Mexico, this brown-skinned apparition of the Virgin Mary also represents the power of syncretism, since she’s a combination of European and Indigenous traditions.

May incoming Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez draw upon la guadalupana’s example and combine her progressive vote with those of more moderate members to create a Los Angeles for all.

Virgen de Guadalupe East Los Angeles
The annual Virgen de Guadalupe procession makes its way on Cesar Chavez Avenue in East Los Angeles in 2021.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

St. Francis of Assisi: The patron saint of animals looms large over the race for city controller. Paul Koretz has long used his position on the City Council to advocate for animal welfare with proposals smart (improve L.A.’s woeful animal shelters) and not (mandate vegan options at large-scale venues). First-time candidate Kenneth Mejia shows off his adorable corgis Killa and Kirby at every possible chance. I’m sure whoever wins wouldn’t blink if his salary came in kibble.

St. Cajetan: The patron saint of job seekers. Hey, Eric Garcetti — how’s that ambassadorship to India looking?


St. Joseph: The father of Jesus and a carpenter, he’s the patron saint of workers. Both candidates for Council District 13, incumbent Mitch O’Farrell and challenger Hugo Soto-Martinez, can relate to him. The former comes from a Teamster family, while the latter is a longtime labor organizer. Whoever wins will need St. Joseph’s handiwork to help rebuild the frayed council, whether from the left like Soto-Martinez or from whatever political position O’Farrell espouses on any particular day.

El Señor de Tlacolula: Many Oaxacan communities in Los Angeles publicly celebrate their patron saints with festivals and processions. One of the most prominent centers on El Señor de Tlacolula, named after its home city. Some of L.A.’s best Oaxacan restaurants are run by Tlacolula natives. Bumper stickers modified so that the final “la” in “Tlacolula” looks like the L.A. on Dodgers caps are always a delight to spot.

If ex-council President Nury Martinez — who infamously spouted anti-Oaxacan statements in a secretly recorded conversation that ended her career — ever wants to return to public life, she should pray for his mercy, then ask forgiveness from El Señor’s worshipers.

St. Alphonsus Liguori: St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of law enforcement, is depicted in Catholic art as slaying Satan. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva thinks he does this every day.

Villanueva and his wife attend St. Alphonsus Church in East Los Angeles — the home parish of my 100-year-old grandma, where his campaign filmed a commercial without the permission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He would be wise to remember that St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron saint of ... confessors.

Sheriff, what are your sins?