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YONKERS, N.Y.,–The October digital issue of Consumer Reports magazine will contain the venerable product tester's first-ever rating of patron saints. The long-awaited rating is expected to save consumers time and money in seeking heavenly intercession for any of an exhausting list of ailments, both mental and physical, as well as protection against all manner of crimes, pestilence, and natural disasters.
"Frankly," said Consumer Report's chief of product testing, Gerald Wilkins, "the church's catalog of patron saints is a buyer's nightmare. John the Baptist, for example, is one of eighteen patron saints of epilepsy listed by the church. How is the consumer to know which of those saints to approach, much less donate money to, in order to secure help with epilepsy? Consumers need to know whether St. Anthony the Abbott is more effective with epilepsy than St. Guy of Anderlecht is. And what about saints Valentine, Vitus, and Willibrord?"
To make matters worse, said Mr. Wilkins, John the Baptist is also the patron saint of bird dealers, converts, cutters, farriers, lambs, monastic life, motorways, printers, and tailors, among others. Is John more effective in helping lambs or bird dealers, monks or motorways?
In order to arrive at its ratings of patron saints, Consumer Reports began by examining each saint's performance in his or her listed areas of expertise.
George Linden, associate director of product claims for Consumer Reports, explained this process, using St. Anthony of Padua as an example.
"Anthony is listed as the patron saint of American Indians, boatmen, elderly people, fishermen, horses, pregnant women, barren women, sailors, swineherds, travel hostesses, and finding lost objects. After cataloging tens of thousands of responses to our online questionnaire, "What has your saint done for you lately?" we determined that St. Anthony is most effective at helping people find lost objects (23 percent) and at comforting the elderly (18 percent).
"Reports of Anthony's rewarding the prayers of American Indians, boatmen, and others were statistically insignificant. Furthermore, there were no reports of Anthony's having aided swineherds or travel hostesses, and the few reports we did receive about his aiding horses came from people who had also prayed to other patron saints of horses such as St. Equus and St. Paul, both of whom rated higher in this category than St. Anthony did. Thus, we can recommend St. Anthony only to people who have misplaced their cell phones and to old folks who are afraid of dying."
Catholics are eagerly looking forward to Consumer Report's rating of patron saints. Barbara Czyskowski, 31, who suffers from a rare but embarrassing case of inverted nipples, has been praying to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, for several years to no avail.
"I can't wait to read Consumer Reports to see if there's somebody more specific to pray to," she said. "They really helped me when I was looking for a new toaster oven. Perhaps they can help me again."
"That's the benefit of our ratings," said Mr. Linden. "There's no need to continue suffering the heartbreak of psoriasis just because you've been praying to the wrong saint."
Church fathers, however, were not so enthusiastic about Consumer Report's ratings.
"Only The Lord God, speaking through His ordained leaders, can raise or lower a saint. Saints cannot be evaluated like refrigerators or propane grills."