St. Anthony of Padua was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Portugal in 1195 to a very wealthy family. As many Italian-Americans know, he is the patron saint of lost things. He was one of the most rapidly canonized saints in the history of the church. He is remembered for his unconditional love and devotion towards the poor and the sick. Today, he is still celebrated in many areas of the world.
1. Italians commonly eat bread on this day. This tradition is based on an episode that happened in Padua when a woman was making bread and found her son drowning in a bucket of water. She prayed to St. Anthony and said that if she was able to get her son back, she would donate bread equal to the weight of her son to the poor. Her son was saved and therefore, the bread is extremely symbolic.
2. St. Anthony entered the Monastery at the age of only fifteen.
3. Statues and images of St. Anthony usually show him with baby Jesus, a book, or a Lilly.
4. Anthony was the most celebrated of St. Francis of Assisi’s and in 1946, Pope Pius XII declared him a doctor of the church.
5. He preached throughout Northern Italy until he died at age 36.
“O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request). O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.”