They were a type of spiritual "Avengers" or "Justice League" known for their miraculous intercession.
In the midst of the 14th century the Black Plague ravaged the cities and countrysides of Europe and Christians were constantly begging God to spare them from the deadly disease.
To help amplify their prayers Christians in Germany turned to a group of saints who were known for their miraculous intervention. They invoked these saints collectively as a group, which eventually became known as the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
Each of the Holy Helpers was chosen specifically for the patronage they had and were added to the list to create a type of “Avengers” or “Justice League” of spiritual power. The saints all have separate feast days, but in some local places the Fourteen Holy Helpers were celebrated on a single day, August 8.
A litany was later developed that assembles the Holy Helpers together, calling them forth to action. It also gives a brief summary of who each saint is and the spiritual benefit that is requested from them. Here are two selections from the litany that highlight these saints.
[Response: pray for us]
Fourteen Holy Helpers,
Saint George, valiant Martyr of Christ,
Saint Blase, zealous bishop and benefactor of the poor,
Saint Erasmus, mighty protector of the oppressed,
Saint Pantaleon, miraculous exemplar of charity,
Saint Vitus, special protector of chastity,
Saint Christophorus, mighty intercessor in dangers,
Saint Dionysius, shining mirror of faith and confidence,
Saint Cyriacus, terror of Hell,
Saint Achatius, helpful advocate in death,
Saint Eustachius, exemplar of patience in adversity,
Saint Giles, despiser of the world,
Saint Margaret, valiant champion of the Faith,
Saint Catherine, victorious defender of the Faith and of purity,
Saint Barbara, mighty patroness of the dying …
[Response: We beseech Thee, hear us]
That Thou come to our aid through the intercession of the Holy Helpers,
That through the intercession of Saint George Thou preserve us in the Faith,
That through the intercession of Saint Blase Thou confirm us in hope,
That through the intercession of Saint Erasmus Thou enkindle in us Thy holy love,
That through the intercession of Saint Pantaleon Thou give us charity for our neighbor,
That through the intercession of Saint Vitus Thou teach us the value of our soul,
That through the intercession of Saint Christophorus Thou preserve us from sin,
That through the intercession of Saint Dionysius Thou give us tranquility of conscience,
That through the intercession of Saint Cyriacus Thou grant us resignation to Thy holy will,
That through the intercession of Saint Eustachius Thou give us patience in adversity,
That through the intercession of Saint Achatius Thou grant us a happy death,
That through the intercession of Saint Giles Thou grant us a merciful judgment,
That through the intercession of Saint Margaret Thou preserve us from Hell,
That through the intercession of Saint Catherine Thou shorten our Purgatory,
That through the intercession of Saint Barbara Thou receive us in Heaven,
That through the intercession of all the Holy Helpers Thou wilt grant our prayers …
Devotion to this particular group of saints spread rapidly throughout Europe and many shrines and churches were dedicated to their honor. To this day the Fourteen Holy Helpers are still highly regarded for their intercession and seen as a powerful group to invoke in times of greatest need.