Monday, January 11, 2016

Matt Talbot: Also the Workers’ Saint

Whereas Venerable Matt Talbot (1856-1925) may be known most frequently as the patron saint of alcoholics, he is also considered as the Workers’ Saint.

A search of our site and elsewhere online notes “worker” or “labourer” in the title of articles and books about Matt. For example, the title of an article at is "Venerable Matt Talbot - The Workers' Saint" and the first sentence states: “Matt Talbot was a Dubliner who struggled with a drink problem, then led a severe ascetical life, and became known after his death as the Workers' Saint.” 

In an article about St. Joseph the Worker at, that included such headings as The Gospel of Work and Your Workplace is Holy Ground, Matt and others are mentioned as examples:

“...One thinks here of Ven. Matt Talbot, the Dublin workman who spent a lifetime as a laborer on building-sites; he would offer his daily work, in union with St. Joseph, to the Divine Workman, of whom he once remarked in his laconic way, “Christ the Carpenter must have a close interest in those who work.”
One also thinks here of Bl. Charles de Foucauld; wishing to share St. Joseph’s lowly status as a manual worker, he prevailed upon the Poor Clares, during his sojourn in Nazareth, to allot him the task of sweeping their convent floors.

Examples abound of Christian zeal in offering to God work of every kind in the spirit of penance and prayer. St. Benedict was imbued with this principle, as is seen in his famous motto: “To work is to pray.” Similarly St. Bernadette; on becoming an invalid she famously declared that this was the newfound employment she could and would offer to God.

Gerard Manley Hopkins had a sharp insight into how the humblest tasks, howsoever low-grade they may be socially and economically, can glorify God and sanctify the worker.”