What is a patron? Definition and example

A patron may be a customer of a restaurant, shop, bar, hotel, or other business. In most cases, the term refers specifically to a regular customer. A patron may also be somebody who gives support, often financial, to a person, cause, or organization. In other words, the term may refer to a sponsor, backer, or financier.

A patron could be somebody who agrees to lend their name to an organization. They do this as a way of supporting it. In this context, the patron helps the organization get noticed, either by adding prestige or credibility.

Members of the British Royal Family, as well as famous celebrities, are patrons of several charities.

The Cambridge Dictionary has the following meanings of the term:

“1. A person or group that supports an activity or organization, especially by giving money. 2. A person who uses a particular shop, restaurant, hotel, etc., especially regularly.”

Patron - British Royal Family are patrons of many organizations
As the website ‘Charities and Patronages’ shows, members of Britain’s Royal Family are patrons of many different types of organizations.

Patron Provides Patronage

Patronage is the encouragement, privilege, support, or financial aid that somebody bestows to an individual or organization. Organizations may also bestow patronage.

Arts patronage, in the history of arts, refers to the support that leaders such as popes and kings provided. Other wealthy and influential people also provided patronage to sculptors, painters, musicians, and artists.

Providers of ‘patronage’ are ‘patrons.’

William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, and Leonardo da Vinci sought and enjoyed the support of ecclesiastical or noble patrons. Michelangelo’s greatest patron was Pope Julius II.

The Evolution of Patronage

Throughout history, the concept of patronage has evolved significantly. In ancient times, emperors, kings, and religious leaders often played the role of patrons, supporting artists, scientists, and scholars.

Their social standing and financial support, allowed advancements in various fields, from art to astronomy. Patrons were not just benefactors; they were gatekeepers of culture, enabling innovation while shaping societal values.

Modern-day patrons, whether individuals or corporations, continue this legacy, playing a pivotal role in the proliferation of arts, sciences, and charitable endeavors.

Patron Saint

A patron saint is a saint that people regard as the heavenly advocate of a country, activity, clan, or family. Crafts, activities, and classes also have patron saints.

Some people also use the terms heavenly protector, patroness saint, or patron hallow.

They exist in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and some branches of Islam.

Saint George, Olaf II, and Our Lady of Guadalupe (The Virgin Mary), for example, are the patron saints of England, Norway, and Mexico respectively. The Virgin Mary is the heavenly protector of dozens of countries.

Etymology of ‘Patron’

Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how their meanings evolved or developed over time.

The English term “Patron” derives from the Old French word “PATRON,” which meant “protector” or “sponsor.” This Old French term traces back to the Latin “PATRONUS,” derived from “PATER,” signifying “father.”

In Latin, “PATRONUS” was used to describe someone who acted as a protector or defender.

The word made its way into the English language in the late 14th century, originally referring to a saint from whom a person or place claims special protection.

Video – What is a Patron?