Sunday, February 28, 2010
I don't even know the official prayer but every time I lose a contact lens, my wallet, or piece of jewelry, I say something like "Please, St. Anthony, please help me" and it suddenly reappears. And this was even before I went to Padua, Italy.
When I stepped off the train, it was a dark, gloomy day. In the square outside the basilica, vendors sold balloons in an almost circus-type atmosphere creating a colorful contrast against the ominous sky. Young and old descended upon Padua and as I turned the knob to open the basilica door, I could hear the voice of Mr. Thomas reciting the Litany of the Saints at Easter Vigil, "St. Anthony of Padua." (Actually St. Anthony wasn't on the list but Mr. Thomas added him anyway. Maybe because he was part Portuguese.)
St. Anthony's tongue (his relic) is located in the apse of the church. It is said that it was chosen because he was a great orator.
He was born in Lisbon, Portugal c.1195 and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221. St. Anthony's story needs no explanation. He is one of the most popular saints of all time. He died in Padua, Italy on June 13, 1231 and is the patron saint of lost articles and American Indians.
St. Anthony was canonized less than a year after his death on May 30, 1232.