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A Patron Saint of Daycares?!?!

In the Orthodox Christian faith, Saint Stylianos* the Hermit is considered the patron saint of children.
He is special help to children who are ill and to childless couples. He is also known as a protector of orphans.
He is usually depicted in icons as an elderly bearded man holding a swaddled infant.
St. Stylianos lived in Paphlagonia** in the latter 6th and 7th century CE.
His day is celebrated on the 26th of November.

In his book on Orthodox Saints*** Fr. George Paulos makes the claim that "His (Stylianos') was probably the first day-care center of the world, where mothers could safely leave their children while tending to other matters of the home".
This quote has been widely copied all over the Internet.
Another Orthodox clergyman charitably called this daycare claim "A bit of a stretch".
He said parents left their older children with the saint for a little counseling, which is quite different than leaving their infants in a daycare for the entire day.

In any case, it's ironic that Fr. Paulos would unintentionally make the mental connection between the protector of orphans and the first daycare!

*Saint Stylianos - His name is sometimes transliterated as "Stylianus" in English.

**The ancient area of Paphlagonia was located on the northern central Black Sea coast, in what is now the north central part of modern Turkey.

***Orthodox Saints: Spiritual Profiles for Modern Man, Vol. 4, 1992, page 144.

English language references on Saint Stylianos are very difficult to find. If you have information about this saint, please e-mail it to us. 

Also see Daycare and Religion.

Last updated 06/22/2008

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