Most of us are familiar with the idea of the “patron saint” in Christianity. The doctrine is even found in some branches of Islam. It is a comforting thing to believe that there is someone out there watching over us, and protecting us in an hour of need. I never used to give this idea much serious thought until recent years. But the idea predates Christianity; it was absorbed into Christianity from beliefs that came before it. The idea of the “guardian spirit” was a commonly-accepted one in the late classical world, as this passage from the historian Ammianus Marcellinus reveals:
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