Featured Saint- Saint Anthony of Padua
By Matthew Venus
My first real acquaintance with Saint Anthony of Padua came quite a few years ago while looking around a local thrift shop. Atop a high shelf sat one of his statues, a tall chalkware figure dressed in brown monastic robes holding the baby Jesus and a bunch of lilies. His gentle and benevolent expression peered down to me amidst old apothecary jars and the cast off brick-a-brack of yesteryears. Though the statue really caught my eye, he was not a Saint that I worked with or was very well acquainted with so I continued on my way shopping for interesting baubles to add to the curio cabinet or future assemblage art creations.
About a week or two later I planned to return to the shop. Considering that the image of the statue kept popping into mind during the passing days I told myself that if he was still there he was coming home with me. Upon my return I went directly to where I had seen him and there he was looking down at me, smiling his tranquil smile and waiting to find a new home. This was a bit of good fortune as items don’t tend to stay in this shop for very long.
When I brought him to the shopkeeper for checkout I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was now half-priced. A pleasant bit of kismet considering I was slightly light in the pocket at the moment. I brought him home, cleansed his statue with florida water and placed him atop a bookshelf in the living room. Then I began doing a bit of research to uncover more about this welcoming Saint. This is when kismet and good fortune began to seem something more.
It turns out that the day I bought the statue was the feast day of Saint Anthony, a sign I took as a message. This in mind I set to the task of preparing a welcoming for the Saint into our home. I anointed some candles with altar oil and placed them near his statue. Since I didn’t have any white lilies I offered him a bunch of orange roses which my partner had given me as a gift that morning. Another bit of coincidence as, according to Ray Marlbrough, orange is a color which is sometimes associated with the Saint in matters of marriage and relationships. I lit some frankincense before the statue, read a few appropriate psalms and said a quick prayer to welcome him into our space.
The Saint began to make his presence known in other ways as well. I was at a flea market in the following weeks and found a lovely antique Saint Anthony medal. I asked the booth owner how much it cost and her exact response was, “For you it’s free”. I took this as a real cue that Saint Anthony was receptive to, and even interested in, working with me.
Since then I have given him frequent offerings, prayer and love. He has helped me in more than a few situations and always comes through when there is serious need of healing or financial increase. In lesser situations he is a great Saint to have on your side when something goes missing and needs to be found pronto.
But who is this Saint? Who was this man? And why is he such a popular Saint?
Born in 1195 to wealthy parents and named Fernando Martins de Bulhões, Saint Anthony of Padua actually spent most of his life in Portugal. He began his theological studies at the age of fifteen when he joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. At the age of twenty-six he joined the Franciscan Order. It is said his desire to join the Franciscan Order arose from both his admiration of their simple lifestyle, and his deep desire to serve his faith. This desire was further ignited after hearing the tales, and viewing the earthly remains, of early Franciscan martyrs. Thus he resolved to fully live in his faith, even if unto the ends of martyrdom himself.
Saint Anthony soon became a well known Franciscan when, while living in Montepaolo, Italy, a group of Franciscans and Dominican Friars were sent to Forli for an ordination. When the time came for the ordination it was found that no one had been chosen to preach. There was some debate as to who would speak as neither the Franciscans nor Dominicans were prepared. After some back and forth Anthony was chosen to take the pulpit. Little was expected of him as his Franciscan brethren were unaware of his great memory and eloquence. When Anthony spoke, he began slowly and quietly at first, but by the time he was finished he had stirred such passion and spoken with such eloquence that his fellows were left astonished. This began a career for Anthony as a professor of theology and respected orator of his faith.
Saint Anthony has had many miracle credited to him within his lifetime. On one occasion he was said to thwart an attempt on his life by removing the poison in food given to him simply making the sign of the cross over it. Another story tells of his bilocation which found him singing in one location while he was said to have been seen by others delivering a sermon in another. Saint Anthony is also credited with protecting others from rainfall on at least two occasions, once was a maid-servant who was carrying vegetables for the brothers , another was an entire audience as they listened to him preaching. Saint Anthony has also been credited with having seen apparitions of both St. Francis and the baby Jesus, which is one of the reasons why he is often depicted holding the Christ Child in his arms.
During his life he regularly preached against hatred and scorn. He felt great sympathy for those in need, promoted a simple existence and was known to stand against greed and the infatuations of wealth and fortune. Saint Anthony also spoke often about the forgiveness of debts for those who could not pay them. His efforts in this arena even resulted in the passing of a law in Padua that favored debtors who were unable to reconcile.
On June 13th 1231 Saint Anthony died in Padua, Italy at the age of thirty-six due to illness. After his passing, with a grand reputation and many miracles credited to him, he was canonized and made a Saint only a year after his death, making him one of the most quickly canonized of any Saint. Thirty years after his death when his vault was opened, his body had decayed, but his tongue, which spoke so eloquently of faith, peace, and generosity was found to be uncorrupted. It has since been kept in a reliquary at his Basilica in Padua.
Saint Anthony is a benevolent miracle worker. During his life and after his death he is believed to be one of the greatest thaumaturgists ever to be canonized. Though Saint Anthony is petitioned for a vast array of needs and requests one area he is most well know is in his ability to assist in finding lost objects or people. A story relates that he once lost a psalter, which upon praying for its return, was promptly brought back to him by a novice monk who had accidentally taken it. This ability of retrieval, revelation, and reconciliation is often passed along in the popular rhyme;
“Anthony, Anthony please come down, for something is lost that must be found.”
I have found that this little prayer regularly leads me to the location of lost objects in a matter of minutes. In extension of this Saint Anthony is often petitioned for help when a child has gone missing or one wishes to have a lover returned.
Given his experiences in life he may also be appropriately petitioned for confidence, memory, and eloquence. Particularly when one must give a speech or presentation. He is also an excellent aid in matters of credit problems and debt reconciliation. Saint Anthony is known to be a champion for the poor and needy, as well a patron for barren women, expectant mothers, sailors and travelers though his aid extends far beyond the areas listed. This in mind, you will find that Saint Anthony is a wonder worker in many arenas of life and that the works he performs are often in line with his miraculous reputation.
In general, when I am working with Saint Anthony I will begin his workings on a Tuesday, though in a pinch, begin when you need to. I give him candle offerings along with a glass of water and white lilies when they are available. Some petitioners will also turn his statue or image upside down until their request is granted. Additionally, in some cases his statue has a removable baby Jesus in its arms which people will often take from him and put aside or into a small drawer located in the base of the statue until their request is granted. However, my statue doesn’t have a removable baby and that’s okay, as I’d kind of feel odd holding the infant Christ for ransom.
I pray to him and read selected psalms related to the issue at hand. I will also write papers with my petition upon them along with any names associated with the working. Others who work with name papers will be somewhat familiar with the methods I employ. I place the petition paper under his novena candle and continue the working until the desired goal is achieved. There are also several websites online which will allow you, either for free or a small donation, to send a prayer request to one of Saint Anthony’s several holy places where it will be read by the monks or placed near relics of the Saint and I have made use of their services in more severe cases. As Saint Anthony is often associated with bread for the needy, after the working is complete I will give offerings of bread to him which can later be given to the earth. Or more commonly I will make a monetary donation to one of the many charities which has been established in his name and assists the homeless.
Table of Associations
Color– Brown (most common), though White (Peace and Healing), Green (Finances) and Orange (Marriage) are attributed to him as well.
Day of Week– He is usually petitioned and given offerings on Tuesdays
Feast Day– June 13th
Symbols– White lilies, the baby Jesus, the Bible or a psalter
Common Offerings– Bread, lilies, candles, donations to the poor.
Unfailing Prayer to Saint Anthony
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.
O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints,
your love for God and Charity for His creatures made you worthy,
when on earth, to possess miraculous powers.
Miracles waited on your word,
which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety.
Encouraged by this thought,
I implore of you to obtain for me
[Mention your intention here…].
The answer to my prayer may require a miracle.
Even so, you are the saint of Miracles.
O gentle and loving St. Anthony,
whose heart was ever full of human sympathy,
whisper my petition into the ears of the Sweet Infant Jesus,
who loved to be folded in your arms,
and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours.
Dal-Gal, N. (1907). St. Anthony of Padua. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 16, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01556a.htm
Illes, J. (2004). The Element Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells. London: Element
Marlbrough, R. (1998). The Magical Power of the Saints. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.
Prayer to Saint Anthony. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/english3/p02202.htm