Many beguines associated with hospitals took St. Elisabeth of Thuringia as their patron. This holy woman devoted her energies to caring for the poor and the sick, especially lepers. For 13th and 14th century beguines, she was also a much closer holy figure than some of the others, at least in terms of time, having been canonized in 1235. In fact, the beguines of the Low Countries were among the first to venerate her.
Catherine of Alexandria represented another aspect of beguine life: teaching.* According to legend, she defeated fifty pagan philosophers in a debate. Her martyrdom was less important than her intelligence and knowledge. As a virgin teacher, she represented an ideal many beguines reached for.
Mary Magdalen was another teaching saint. People knew the story that she was a reformed prostitute, but she was better known as Jesus’ follower and the preacher who converted Gaul. She had devoted herself to Christ while still living within the world, which was exactly what the beguines did.
Most of the other saints who were especially venerated by beguines were also women who lived and worked in the secular world, usually widows or virgins. The few male saints who were taken as patrons of beguinages or depicted in chapel artwork tended to be those who were known for their devotion to the poor (e.g. Francis of Assisi and St. Alexis) or their humble preaching (e.g. John the Baptist).**
The saints a community chooses to venerate shows what they value. The beguines chose primarily women who were known for their work within the secular world and for their devotion to charity or teaching. Cloistered saints and male saints in general tended to have little relevance to their lives.
*And possibly preaching as well.
**The key word there is “humble.” No sainted bishops for these women.
Simons, Walter. Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.
Mary, Mother of Jesus - Wikipedia
Life of Elizabeth of Thuringia (Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend) - Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Elisabeth of Thuringia - Wikipedia
Life of Catherine of Alexandria (Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend) - Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Catherine of Alexandria - Wikipedia
Life of Mary Magdalene (Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend) - Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Mary Magdalene - Wikipedia
Life of Alexis of Rome (Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend) - Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Alexius of Rome - Wikipedia
Francis of Assisi (Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend) - Internet History Sourcebooks Project
Francis of Assisi - Wikipedia
(I am not linking to any more of Francis of Assisi's vitae. There are too many of them and too much politics surrounding them. Go look them up yourself.)