Saints medals give the faithful something to hang onto _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Saints Medals

With the Saints at 2-3, fans are hoping, and in some cases praying, that today’s game against the Detroit Lions will change the team’s momentum.

Rob Clemenz, owner of the local religious medal business Saints for Sinners, has just the thing to help: a collection of medals imported from Italy and painted with the colors and numbers of some of our favorite Saints.

A lifelong Catholic who says he’s “received all of the sacraments I’m eligible to receive,” Clemenz began by painting tiny traditional medals of popes and saints — from St. Aloysius to St. Stephen with many in between.

But recently, he said, “I had this epiphany. My basic line is ‘Jesus loves the Saints.’ ”

From there it was an easy leap to enameled medals with Christ in a black-and-gold jersey and others depicting a fleur-de-lis.

Clemenz, a consumer lawyer by trade, arrived in New Orleans to attend Loyola Law School in 1984, and has been a Saints season ticket holder for the past two decades.

He buys the medals in bulk in Italy, most recently when he flew to Rome to attend the double canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in April.

He says they’re intended to give faith and hope to believers, nonbelievers, football fans and nonfans alike. “The intention with the medals is to embrace everyone and not to be judgmental,” he said.

The medals are now available in local shops including Little Miss Muffin and Jean Therapy, as well as via Clemenz’s own website,

Clemenz has set aside his law practice to pursue his business fulltime, though he admits it’s not a huge moneymaker.

But, “It’s really not me that’s guiding the ship,” he said. “Sometimes you get a calling, and you follow it.”