You are probably familiar with the jingle or saying, ‘Tony, Tony look around, something is lost and must be found’. This is actually a prayer to St. Anthony, the saint of lost things.
But Anthony of Padua, as he was also known, is more than a saint of lost items. He is venerated as an influential teacher, preacher, and theologian. He is also known for his devotion to the sick and poor.
In this post, we discuss St. Anthony, his service to God and his patronage as the saint of lost things.
What You'll Learn Today
Who Is St. Anthony?
Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal. He schooled at a local cathedral school and by age 15, he’d joined an Augustinian community.
He later studied theology and Latin and was ordained as a priest. He also became a Franciscan friar.
Throughout his life, Anthony was known for his mastery of the scripture and powerful preaching. It was for these reasons that he was later proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
There’s one story of him that narrates how he went to preach in Rimini, a city in Italy. When the people refused to listen to him and treated him with contempt, he went to the shoreline and started preaching to the fish.
Much to the amazement of the locals, the fish gathered and listened to his preaching, prompting the people to change their mind.
But Anthony did not just preach and teach the word of God. He was also highly devoted to the sick and the poor.
St. Anthony died in Italy at the young age of 35.
Just one year later, he was canonized into sainthood by Pope Pius XII. His canonization is one of the quickest among Catholic saints.
Why Is St. Anthony The Saint of Lost Things?
The association of St. Anthony with finding lost things comes from a story about an incident that took place in a monastery in Italy.
Anthony had a highly treasured book containing his notes and commentaries. A novice who was leaving the monastery took the book and went away with it.
Keep in mind that books then were hand written and thus highly valuable. It’s not like Anthony could get a replacement. So he was understandably distressed about the loss.
St. Anthony prayed for the book to be returned and for the novice to come back to the monastery.
The novice returned to the book, begged for forgiveness and was accepted back into the monastery.
That’s why the church venerates St. Anthony as the patron saint for lost things.
How To Pray To St. Anthony
You can pray to him to find something you’ve lost, be it a lost item, a lost child, or a stolen car.
But St. Anthony doesn’t just intercede for the recovery of material items. If you feel you’ve lost your faith, hope, salvation and other spiritual goods, you can also pray to the saint.
Remember that Anthony not only prayed for his treasured book to be returned but also that the lost soul of the novice would come back to his faith.
You can pray to St. Anthony for yourself or on behalf of another person.
Feel free to use your own words or one of the many prayers and Novenas to St. Anthony.
How Many Miracles Did St. Anthony Perform?
13 miracles are attributed St. Anthony. You can see the full list here.
The miracles include the famous sermon to the fishes. There’s also a story that a starved mule was given the choice between fodder and sacramental bread. The story goes that the mule bowed to the bread, ignoring the fodder.
St. Anthony is also said to have re-attached a severed foot, ate poisoned food with no harm, and commanded an infant to speak.
In addition to the 13 miracles, numerous believers over the years have attributed finding lost people and items to invoking St. Anthony’s name in their prayers.
Which Symbols Are Associated With St. Anthony?
Like many other Catholic saints, you’ll find the image of St. Anthony on shrines, art pieces, medallions, and on church walls and windows.
In most cases, his image is accompanied by specific symbols.
Often, St. Anthony is shown wearing a monk’s robe, with the Christ child in his arms, and holding a lily.
The lily stands for purity while the depiction of baby Jesus in his arms comes from something that happened while he was in Camposampiero, a town in Italy.
Anthony had stopped for the night and someone had given him a room. During the night, the benefactor was passing by the room when he saw light shining from inside.
He opened the door to find St. Anthony holding baby Jesus in his arms. That’s why St. Anthony is often shown holding a baby.
As for the lily, there are a couple of possible explanations why it came to be associated with St. Anthony.
The first is from stories that people would live lilies on his shrine and they would remain fresh for several months.
The second is that lilies bloom in June, the same month that St. Anthony’s feast day is celebrated.
Other symbols associated with St. Anthony of Padua include bread to signify his work towards the poor, a book to symbolize his excellence in preaching and teaching, and a habit or robe to indicate his membership in the Franciscan order.
In some churches and countries St. Anthony has been granted additional titles including patron saint of oppressed people, poor people, amputees, travel hostesses, the elderly, animals and more.
Most of these patronages arise from his lifelong work helping the poor and sick in society.
When Is The Feast Day For St. Anthony?
The feast day of St. Anthony of Padua is celebrated on 13 June every year.
This day is celebrated differently in various churches and countries. In most Catholic churches, believers recall his works for the poor, his preaching and his help in finding lost items.
In Italy, and places with large numbers of Italians such as the North End of Boston, a procession is held following the statue of St. Anthony.
For more stories about Catholic saints, check out this one about St. Stephen.