The Miracles and Patronage of St. Anthony
Catholics know St. Anthony best as the patron saint
of lost things. One story goes that St. Anthony had
a psalter, filled with his own notes, that a novice, leaving
the monastery, took. St. Anthony prayed for its return and
the novice came back, gave him his psalter, and rejoined
Barren women claim St. Anthony for their patron saint
as well, most probably because of his association with the
Child Jesus. From the 17th century, statues of St. Anthony
holding the Child Jesus have been popular. It is believed
that one night, during Saint Anthony's lifetime, the Divine
Child visited him, kissed him and told him He loved him.
The story is so well loved that, aside from Mary, St. Anthony
is the saint most often depicted with the Child Jesus. He
is also often shown carrying a lily, a symbol of purity,
innocence and integrity, most likely assigned because he
was once entrusted with the Child Jesus.
In keeping with his beloved Franciscan tradition, St. Anthony
had a special love for poor and oppressed people.
Knowing this, a shopkeeper named Louise Booffier of Toulon,
France, who had lost her key, prayed to St. Anthony that
she would give bread to the poor in his honor, if a locksmith
could open her bolted shop door without force. The miracle
happened, and she founded the charity of St. Anthony Bread
in gratitude. On his feast day, June 13, some churches still
bless loaves of bread to be given to the poor, although
the term "St. Anthony Bread" is used to denote
any offering made in thanksgiving for a favor from St. Anthony.
St. Anthony is also the patron saint of amputees. In
Padua, a young man confessed to St. Anthony that he had
kicked his mother. Later, in remorse at St. Anthony's remonstrance,
he cut off his own foot. St. Anthony, hearing of this drastic
action, came and reattached the amputated limb.
St. Anthony is, in addition, the Catholic patron saint
starvation, American Indians, boatmen, elderly people, expectant
mothers, fishermen, harvests, horses, mail, mariners, pregnant
women, sailors, swineherds, travel hostesses, travelers
Many miracles have been attributed to St. Anthony,
including our countless, unrecorded, everyday miracles of
finding lost articles. It is written that he rendered some
poisoned food, given to him by heretics, harmless, with
the sign of the cross. A horse, another story goes, knelt
down to worship the Eucharist held up by St. Anthony.
The legend of Anthony and the Fishes:
St Anthony being at one time at Rimini, where there
were a great number of heretics, and wishing to lead them
by the light of faith into the way of truth, preached to
them for several days, and reasoned with them on the faith
of Christ and on the Holy Scriptures. They not only resisted
his words, but were hardened and obstinate, refusing to
listen to him.
At last St Anthony, inspired by God, went down to the
sea-shore, where the river runs into the sea, and having
placed himself on a bank between the river and the sea,
he began to speak to the fishes as if the Lord had sent
him to preach to them, and said: "Listen to the word
of God, O ye fishes of the sea and of the river, seeing
that the faithless heretics refuse to do so."
No sooner had he spoken these words than suddenly so
great a multitude of fishes, both small and great, approached
the bank on which he stood, that never before had so many
been seen in the sea or the river. All kept their heads
out of the water, and seemed to be looking attentively on
St Anthonys face; all were ranged in perfect order
and most peacefully, the smaller ones in front near the
bank, after them came those a little bigger, and last of
all, were the water was deeper, the largest.
When they had placed themselves in this order, St Anthony
began to preach to them most solemnly, saying: "My
brothers the fishes, you are bound, as much as is in your
power, to return thanks to your Creator, who has given you
so noble an element for your dwelling; for you have at your
choice both sweet water and salt; you have many places of
refuge from the tempest; you have likewise a pure and transparent
element for your nourishment. God, your bountiful and kind
Creator, when he made you, ordered you to increase and multiply,
and gave you his blessing. In the universal deluge, all
other creatures perished; you alone did God preserve from
all harm. He has given you fins to enable you to go where
you will. To you was it granted, according to the commandment
of God, to keep the prophet Jonas, and after three days
to throw him safe and sound on dry land. You it was who
gave the tribute-money to our Saviour Jesus Christ, when,
through his poverty, he had not wherewith to pay. By a singular
mystery you were the nourishment of the eternal King, Jesus
Christ, before and after his resurrection. Because of all
these things you are bound to praise and bless the Lord,
who has given you blessings so many and so much greater
than to other creatures."
At these words the fish began to open their mouths,
and bow their heads, endeavouring as much as was in their
power to express their reverence and show forth their praise.
St Anthony, seeing the reverence of the fish towards their
Creator, rejoiced greatly in spirit, and said with a loud
voice: "Blessed be the eternal God; for the fishes
of the sea honour him more than men without faith, and animals
without reason listen to his word with greater attention
than sinful heretics."
And whilst St Anthony was preaching, the number of fishes
increased, and none of them left the place that he had chosen.
And the people of the city hearing of the miracle, made
haste to go and witness it. With them also came the heretics
of whom we have spoken above, who, seeing so wonderful and
manifest a miracle, were touched in their hearts; and threw
themselves at the feet of St Anthony to hear his words.
The saint then began to expound to them the Catholic faith.
He preached so eloquently, that all those heretics were
converted, and returned to the true faith of Christ; the
faithful also were filled with joy, and greatly comforted,
being strengthened in the faith.
After this St Anthony sent away the fishes, with the
blessing of God; and they all departed, rejoicing as they
went, and the people returned to the city. But St Anthony
remained at Rimini for several days, preaching and reaping
much spiritual fruit in the souls of his hearers.
- From the Fioretti, a collection of legends about early
Join us on
Quotes of St.
ANthony of Padua