June 13th is the Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua.
Born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in 1195, St. Anthony of Padua was a Portuguese Catholic Priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He adopted the name Anthony after St. Anthony of Egypt (St. Anthony the Great).
Anthony set out to minster in Morocco, but fell ill along the way and attempted a return to Portugal. In the providence of God, his ship was blown off course and landed in Sicily. He then made his way to Tuscany, and eventually to northern Italy. He was eventually appointed provincial superior of northern Italy and chose the city of Padua as his home.
In 1231, after years of fruitful ministry, Anthony fell ill on his way back to Padua. On June 13 of that same year he died at the Poor Clare monastery at Arcella. He was 35. Anthony is buried in, what is today, the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua (il Santo).
St. Anthony was known for his expert knowledge of Scripture and his powerful preaching. His preaching and teaching was said to have explained the beautiful allegories, symbolisms, and foreshadowings of Scripture. In fact, Pope Gregory IX described St. Anthony as the "Ark of the Testament.”
Anthony was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on January 16, 1946 by Pope Pius XII (a title conferred on only a select few). Specifically, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Anthony Doctor Evangelicus because his preaching and writing so well described the beauty and power of the Gospel.
St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things, and is invoked by Catholics the world over for the recovery of lost items. On that note, I want to tell you about an experience I had in 2015: I was only two months into my teaching position at St. John Paul II Catholic High School when I lost the keys I had been issued to the school. These two keys had been attached to my key ring, and I have no idea how they came loose. I spent the day searching everywhere – my home, my truck, and everywhere at the school. I had others looking for them as well – double checking each of these areas. However, no luck. And the idea of having to inform the school’s administration of this loss was quite an embarrassing one.
Finally, at the close of the day, one of the other teachers at the school asked me if I had sought out St. Anthony’s help, something I had never done before. I told her, however, that I would give it a shot. So, as I walked down the empty hallway of the school, I invoked the saint. Shortly thereafter, as I entered my truck and pulled on the seat-belt strap, something I had already done several times that day, but this time I heard a little tingle. I thought, surely not! But I set my focus upon the source of the sound, the small slit in the plastic box into which the seat-belt strap withdrew, and carefully popped it open; and there they were, my missing keys. This was no coincidence. And since then, I’ve had a few other amazing experiences where I've received this saint’s merciful assistance.
I’ve also recently discovered that the hospital in which I was born, St. Anthony’s in St. Louis, MO, a hospital founded by Franciscan Sisters (Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary), was named after St. Anthony of Padua. I guess you could say that St. Anthony first assisted me in finding my way into the world.
St. Anthony, pray for us.
Christo et Ecclesiae,