On June 13 the church celebrates the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua.
Anthony was born in Lisbon in 1195 and was baptized Ferdinand. His parents were faithful and handed on their faith to their son. He received his early education at the Cathedral School of Lisbon. He joined the Augustinians and later entered the Order of Friars Minor, the Franciscans, and took the name Anthony. Pope Pius XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
St. Anthony is familiar to many of the faithful as the patron saint of lost items. According to tradition, a novice carried off a valuable psalter and Anthony prayed that the lost psalter would be found. The novice had second thoughts after witnessing an apparition of Anthony in prayer and returned the psalter.
St. Anthony's reputation for finding lost objects is well-known. Many people claim his intercession has proven invaluable. Many parents have taught their children about the intercession of St. Anthony by reciting together this simple prayer:
"St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around, something is lost, and can't be found."
I remember my parents teaching me this prayer whenever something in our home was lost or misplaced. I also remember teaching it to our children when they were younger.
This prayer to St. Anthony can seem like magical thinking unless it is understood as the intercession of a heavenly saint. Intercession is simply invoking those in heaven -- the angels and saints -- to pray with us and for us for a special intention. All prayer that is answered is only by the power of God.
Many believe that St. Anthony might better be remembered as the patron of lost souls -- those who have succumbed to a sinful life and abandoned their faith and the church.