Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

When we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I took the kids to an art museum where a docent told us about the long tradition of creating santos to tell the story of saints. For visual learners, art has always been a means of teaching the stories of faith without requiring reading. Stained glass, icons, murals, and frescoes are all means of depicting the stories of the Bible and of saints without the necessity of words. The santos in New Mexico were originally created by the Franciscan Friars to teach the people the stories of faith. The docent gave us some examples of saints whose stories were told. My son was most fascinated by the santo image of St. Anthony of Padua and his story. When the kids were given the opportunity to create their own santo, he painted St. Anthony and called him “St. Finder.” This was the perfect saint for a kid who always had a very difficult time with lost items!

Anthony was originally an Augustinian monk who lived in Portugal. When the Franciscan martyrs were being returned from Morocco, the procession went through Coimbra, where he was living. He was so inspired by their martyrdom that he became a Franciscan Friar. He was known as a great preacher, calling many to return to their faith. St. Francis gave him permission to teach the Brothers and referred to him as his bishop.  He is often portrayed with the infant Jesus in his arms, as he is said to have had an apparition of Jesus when he was reading Scripture.

How did St. Anthony of Padua become the patron saint of lost things? Anthony had a book of psalms that a novice friar had taken. Anthony had prayed that it would be found. The novice had an apparition of Anthony and returned the psalter immediately! With his preaching, he also affected lost souls, bringing them back to the Church.

The feast of St. Anthony of Padua is June 13. It’s a great time for us to remember a man who dedicated his life to preaching God’s word and serving God’s people. We can even say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the times we have received assistance from him in finding that lost item!

Blessed Angela: “Rather lose all than lose God.”

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