Have you ever come across a person that captured your attention and left you wanting to learn more about them? Maybe you wondered, just who is that man? (or woman?) One such person that intrigued me in my younger years was Saint Anthony of Padua. Mainly because I was taught the prayerful phrase, “Tony, Tony, look around…something’s lost and can’t be found.” I was curious why we ask Saint Anthony for help when we lose something. Was it because he lost things when he was a child?
As I researched this pious person, I found some interested things about him. Take the quiz below and you can learn more about this spiritual role model too.
- Saint Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. What name was he given at his baptism?
Saint Anthony was born into a prominent family in Lisbon, the son of Martin and Mary Bulhom. His parents gave him the name Fernando at his baptism. He took the name Anthony when he received his habit, most likely inspired by Saint Anthony of Egypt.
- How old was Saint Anthony when he went to the Abbey of Santa Cruz?
A) 10 years old
B) 15 years old
C) 20 years old
Saint Anthony gave up his life of prestige and asked to be sent to the Abbey at age fifteen. He studied there for two years and then for nine years at Coimbra, learning Theology and Latin. He was probably ordained a priest during this later time.
- Saint Anthony originally started out as an Augustine, but then changed to what order?
A) The Franciscans
B) The Dominicans
C) The Jesuits
Saint Anthony changed to the Franciscan order after being inspired by five Franciscans who were martyred in Morocco. He longed to be a witness for Christ and earn the crown of a martyr. The Franciscans did initially send him off to Morocco, but he never made it because he became very ill and was brought back to recover. Anthony suffered from ill health most the rest of his life and died at the age of 36.
- Saint Anthony is the patron saint of _____?
A) Hospital workers
C) Lost things
Saint Anthony is invoked for the return of lost property. One reason comes from the story of his missing book of Psalms. This was the time before the printing press and owning a book was a very special thing. When Anthony discovered his precious book of Psalms was missing he prayed that it would be found and returned to him. After his prayer, the thief was moved to return the psalter. It turned out to be one of the novices in his order!
- Saint Anthony became famous when he____?
A) Delivered an eloquent sermon
B) Built a monastery
C) Wrote a book
The answer is A. Saint Anthony was at an ordination, and for some reason, there was no one to give the sermon. So the Franciscan provincial asked Anthony to just give a short simple sermon, thinking he was fairly uneducated for he did not fully know about Anthony’s theological studies as an Augustine. Anthony’s delivery was so humble and eloquent that he quickly became famous for his preaching. Over the years the crowds that would come hear him were so great that sometimes he had to go out into a field to preach because everybody could not fit in the church.
- Once Saint Anthony attempted to preach to some heretics who would not listen to him, so he went out and preached his message to some____?
Tradition tells of Saint Anthony preaching to some fish, which all swam up to hear the famous speaker. After seeing hordes of fish listening to Saint Anthony, the heretics relented and returned to the truth of the faith that Saint Anthony was teaching.
- Thirty-two years after Saint Anthony’s death, his body was moved so as to be placed beneath the high altar of the church in Padua. What part of his body was found uncorrupted?
A) His tongue
B) His heart
C) His feet
Though most everything else had decomposed, it was his tongue that was intact and life-like upon opening his coffin, even though the tongue is the part of our body that decays first. It was taken as a sign that God approved of his mission of preaching and teaching. Saint Bonaventure, who was present for the occasion, reverently took the tongue and said, “O blessed tongue, which has always blessed God and caused other to bless Him, now it appears evident how great were your merits before God!” His tongue was placed in a reliquary and can still be seen today.
Admiration for Saint Anthony
So, it was the simple poem “Tony, Tony look around, something’s lost and can’t be found” that initially caught my attention, but now I admire Saint Anthony for other things besides asking him to help me find lost articles.
Most notably, I admire Saint Anthony’s deep prayer life and humble nature. The scientific examination that was conducted on his bones in 1981 revealed that he had thickened knee caps, a result of kneeling in prayer for long hours every day.
Another thing I am in awe of is how he was able to preach and teach in a simple and yet profound way. He did so in a way that even the uneducated were able to understand his messages. His method included the use of allegory and symbolic explanation of Scripture. I believe this Saint can teach me a lot about my attempts to share the Good News. I wonder if the Lord is telling me…Pray more!
In summary, Saint Anthony was a simple and humble friar who preached the Good News lovingly and with fearless courage. So many miracles occurred at his gravesite that he was canonized a saint in the shortest time in the history of the church-only 11 months. In 1946 Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Universal Church.