St. Anthony of Padua
Patron Saint of Lost Things
Feast Day: June 13
If St. Anthony specializes in anything, it is in finding lost objects. In America there’s even a little rhyme about it: “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please look all around. There’s something that’s missing and cannot be found.” It’s not great poetry, but it makes its point.
The life of St. Anthony is brimming with miracles, and one of these stories explains how St. Anthony became the heavenly finder of lost objects. A novice in St. Anthony’s community decided to run off without telling his superiors. Before he left, he stole a valuable copy of the Psalms that belonged to Anthony.
Distressed at the loss of such a beautiful book, Anthony prayed to recover it. Meanwhile, as the thief was making his getaway, he saw a terrible apparition blocking his path. “Return the book to Anthony!” the vision commanded. Frightened out of his wits, the young man ran all the way back to the monastery to restore the book to its rightful owner.
Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal. How he wound up in Italy is a long story. Here’s the short version:
Anthony had entered the Augustinian order in Lisbon. The bodies of five Franciscan missionaries who had been martyred in Morocco arrived in Portugal. Filled with admiration for the holy men, Anthony decided to switch orders from the Augustinians to the Franciscans and join the mission in Morocco. This he did.
However, on a trip home, a storm at sea blew Anthony’s ship off course. instead of landing in Portugal, Anthony came ashore in Sicily.
His timing was good: the Franciscans were gathering in Assisi for a general meeting, or chapter, and St. Francis himself would be there, It was at the chapter that Anthony decided to remain in italy.
On one occasion, Anthony made it his mission to bring back to the Catholic faith a man belonging to the Cathars, a sect that hated the Church and especially hated the doctrine of Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
Nothing Anthony said made any impression on the man, Then on a holy day, Anthony carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession through the streets. People knelt as the Sacred Heart passed by. When Anthony encountered the Cathar, the obstinate man remained standing, but his mule went down on its knees. The miracle of the mule convinced the Cathar, and he returned to the Church.
After Anthony died, so many miracles occurred through his intercession that Pope Gregory IX declared him a saint just one year after his death. Almost 800 years later, Anthony still holds the record for the fastest canonization.