St. Anthony, St. Anthony .... Patron Saint of Lost Things
St. Anthony of Padua (1195 - 1231) is certainly one of the most popular saints. He is well-known for what he did in his life on earth and now as he enjoys Heaven.
In this life, he was a member of the Franciscans, and he had a gift for preaching. Today, he is sometimes best known as the patron saint of lost things for his ability to help us retrieve items we have lost or to help us locate that parking space we need.
A Quick Canonization
St. Anthony worked wonders while he was on earth, and he has not stopped since he joined the Church Triumphant. After his death, the number of miracles attributed to him were so great that the Bishop of Padua requested that the process for canonization begin immediately. The Holy See proceeded with the inquiry process and within an unprecedented eleven months of his death, he was declared a saint. His own mother and two of his sisters were able to attend the canonization in 1232.
Over the years, many have asked for his help and this story tells of a Spanish woman who received St. Anthony's help in an extraordinary way.
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A Prayer for St. Anthony's Help
In 1729, a merchant by the name of Antonio Dante left Spain to go to Lima, Peru in order to start a business. Since the time he had left, his wife had written him several letters, but none of them had been answered. She became more and more concerned as the months went by without a reply from her husband.
After many months and growing concern, she wrote yet another letter and took it with her to the Church of St. Francis in Oviedo. In the church, there was a statue of St. Anthony with an outstretched hand.
Before the statue, she asked St. Anthony's intercession with the following prayer:
St. Anthony, I pray to thee. Let this letter reach him and obtain for me a speedy reply.
Trusting in his assistance, she then placed her letter in the hand of the statue of St. Anthony.
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Disappointment Turns to Joy
The following day she returned to the church only to be disappointed because St. Anthony's hand still held a letter. After so many months of worry, this was too much, and she broke down and cried. Her weeping attracted the attention of one of the brother sacristans.
She shared her story with him in order to explain her outburst. After listening to her, the brother mentioned that he had tried to remove the letter from St. Anthony's hand but he had been unable to do so. It would not budge. Perhaps she should try, the brother suggested.
The lady easily retrieved the letter from St. Anthony's hand. To her surprise, the letter was not hers. Instead it was a letter from her husband!
And then gold coins fell from the sleeve of the statue. At this, the brother ran over and called this to the attention of some other brothers in the Church.
The lady then shared her joy and gratitude by reading the contents of the letter to the excited brothers:
My dearest wife. For some time I have been expecting a letter from you, and I have been greatly troubled and concerned at not hearing from you. But at last your letter has come, and given me joy. It was a Father of the Order of St. Francis who brought it to me. You complain that I have left your letters unanswered. I assure you that when I did not receive any from you I believed you must be dead, and so you may imagine my happiness at the arrival of your letter. I answer you now by the same religious Father, and send you three hundred golden crowns [coins], which should suffice for your support until my approaching return.
In the hope of soon being with you, I pray God for you, and I commend myself to my dear patron St. Anthony, and ardently desire that you may continue to send me tidings of yourself.
Your most affectionate,
The original letter is a treasured reminder of the miracle, and it is kept by the friars of the Church of St. Francis in Oviedo.
S.A.G. on the Envelope
Because of this miraculous mail delivery, the practice of writing S.A.G. on letters became popular. The abbreviation is for Santo Antonio Guía which translates to Saint Anthony Guide. By writing S.A.G. on the envelope, a letter is placed under the protection of St. Anthony in order to guide the letter safely to its recipient.
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