Over the past few years I've come to have a deep respect and awe for the influence and power of the Saints.
Saints aren't just characters in Christianity, they are used by many religious, magical, mystical and folk traditions. Petitioned for special causes, revered for their unique abilities and honored by those they benefact, they truly are a fascinating and varied bunch.
Some well known Saints...
St. Nicholas - patron saint of children
St. Patrick - patron saint of Ireland and chaser of snakes :)
The Blessed Virgin
St. Joseph - patron saint of workers, and protector of the Catholic Church
St. Joseph is really interesting because there is a very popular 'spell' that involves him. It is believed that if you bury a Saint Joseph figure upside-down in your front yard that it will help to sell your property. You can even buy kits for this purpose! I've done this twice with great success and have my wee Saint Joseph standing in his place of honor by my front door.
The Saints also play a vital role in Afro-Caribbean religions. Very basically put, slaves, unable to worship their African gods and goddesses adopted the imagery of the Catholic saints and applied the personalities of their own deities. For example, Papa Legba is associated with St. Peter, the keeper of the crossroads/the guardian at the gates of heaven. (Check out Old Religion/New World for a much better explanation.)
I'm using the power of the Saints myself at the moment. I've built a shrine to Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother to Jesus. Saint Anne is the patron saint of Canada, housewives, seamstresses and whose speciality is tranquility.
The text you see on the sides are a set of prayers called a Novena. The prayers are for special petitions to the saints and are conducted for 9 consecutive days.
I have faith that Saint Anne will help to restore tranquility to my neighbourhood.