When early Spanish explorers first came upon this land in California, they thought it would give them a strategic advantage due to its natural harbor. By 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza arrived and chose sites for military and religious settlements, naming them after St. Francis of Assisi. The Mission San Francisco de Asís converted over 10,000 Ohlone who lived in the area.
Frank Schulenburg | CC BY-SA 4.0
St. Augustine, Florida
Pedro Menendez de Aviles first caught sight of this land in what is Florida today from his boat on the feast of St. Augustine on August 28, 1565. After finally disembarking on September 8, he laid claim to the territory in the name of the Doctor of the Church, making it today the oldest city in the United States.
Paul Brennan | CC0
St. Louis, Missouri
Founded in 1764 by French fur traders, the now-second largest city in Missouri was named after their king, Louis IX of France. Louis went on to be the only canonized king of France, a devout Catholic participating in crusades and spending huge sums on collecting holy relics.
Daniel Schwen | CC BY-SA 4.0
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, as it is still called today, was named by Franciscan monks to honor the Virgin Mary. There is some dispute as to its exact original full name given by its Spanish founders, but popular belief is that it was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, or, the town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. By 1786, the name was shortened to the now familiar Los Angeles.
Adoramassey | CC BY-SA 4.0
Santa Fe, New Mexico
While Santa Fe means "holy faith" in Spanish, the city's full name when founded in 1610 was La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, or "The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi." Santa Fe is one of the many towns honoring the deep faith of St. Francis.
Asaavedra32 | CC BY-SA 3.0
The capital of the state of California bears a name inspired by the Holy Eucharist. The city was founded in 1850 and was named after the river Santisimo Sacramento, or the Most Holy Sacrament, nowadays more commonly known as the Sacramento River.
J.smith | CC BY-SA 3.0
Holy Cross, Alaska
This remote small town in Alaska was initially called Anilukhtakpak when it was founded in the 1840s. However, Fr. Aloysius Robaut from the Holy Cross mission arrived in the 1880s to the town, which had been renamed Askhomute. By 1912 the town finally got its final name of Holy Cross after the mission, and of course, Christ's cross.
John E. Thwaites | Public Domain
St. Albans, Vermont
The city in Vermont, which was founded in 1763, derives its name from the town of St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England. The English city was named after England's first saint, who was martyred for his faith in the 3rd or 4th century.
Szoki Adams | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
St. Paul, Oregon
As part of the St. Paul Mission -- named after the Apostle Paul -- Fr. Francois Blanchet arrived in this Oregan settlement in 1838 to see to the needs of the local Catholics. The town's name was taken from its newly built St. Paul Church that celebrated its first Catholic Mass on January 6, 1839.
M.O. Stevens | CC BY-SA 3.0
Santa Rosa, California
The founder of this city in New Mexico, Don Celso Baca, named the area in 1890 after a chapel he'd previously built, Santa Rosa. The chapel drew its name from Baca's own mother, Rosa, and St. Rose of Lima. The rose could also be a nod to Our Lady of Guadeloupe and the flowers in her story that so many Spanish settlers honor.
Frank Schulenburg | CC BY-SA 3.0
St. Genevieve, Missouri
This little-known Catholic spot in the US is nevertheless one of the most significant. Founded by Canadian settlers and migrants from east of the Mississippi River in 1735, it is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri. The city was named after the 5th-century St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, France, since so many of its founders were French. The large and beautiful church, at the center of the town, was built by the villagers, who also named it after the saint.