June 13 is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua
How many times this week have you turned in desperation to St. Anthony to find your house keys, your car keys, your eyeglasses (my specialty), your mobile, your Metro Card, your wallet…the list goes on. His fame as a finder of misplaced or lost items transcends the Roman Catholic population. Everybody, it seems, knows of and prays to St. Anthony. He is one very busy saint. But how in the world did this great Franciscan friar and teacher become the rescuer of distracted people?
According to some information I found at americancatholic.org, a website of St. Anthony Press, the origins of Anthony’s special gift lie not with absentmindedness but, rather, with a bit of lightfingered-ness on the part of an errant novice.
Anthony had a book of Psalms in which he had inscribed many notes and other items of interest. He used this Psalter to teach his students in the Order. One of those students decided to leave and he swiped the Psalter. When Anthony discovered what happened, he simply prayed that it would be returned. The novice had second thoughts. He returned the Psalter…and himself. The Order accepted him back. What a great story of sin, remorse, forgiveness and another chance.
St. Anthony is also the saint of missing persons, not surprisingly, and of sailors, travelers and fisherman. Again, there’s a personal connection. Anthony was a great missionary and went all the way to Morocco to preach the Gospel. He became seriously ill on the voyage, prayed for God’s help, and recovered.
Finally – and this is often overlooked about Anthony – he is a Doctor of the Universal Church, so declared by Pope Pius XII back in 1946 in recognition of his great skill as a teacher and preacher. He could take the Word of God and apply it to ordinary situations, to make it more “real” to people. Kind of reminds you of our wonderful new pope, doesn’t he?
Just thought you’d like to know who’s finding your stuff for you.