Saint Anthony of Padua

13th June

“Dear St Anthony, please come round, something is lost and cannot be found.”
Most people are familiar with this invocation to St.Anthony as they plead to him to help them recover a lost item. But St. Anthony’s greatness goes beyond being a patron for finding lost things!

His real name was Fernando Martins de Bulhoes. Although linked to Padua, Italy, he was born in Lisbon, Portugal. He was not interested in his family’s status and wealth, being inclined to follow the religious life. He was only 15 when he joined the Augustinians in Coimbra, Portugal and started his studies for the priesthood.

His life changed when Franciscan monks settled in St. Anthony’s hermitage, close to Coimbra. He was attracted to the missionary spirit of the Franciscans and impressed when the bodies of Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco to Lisbon. After receiving permission from his superiors, he left the Agustinians and joined the Franciscans as a priest, taking the name of Anthony.
His dream to become a missionary was fulfilled when soon after, he was sent as a missionary to Morocco. But he did not remain there for long because he became seriously ill and had to return by ship to Portugal to recover. However the ship was caught in a terrible storm and after being blown off course, it landed on the shores of Sicily, Italy. After regaining his health, Anthony and his companions travelled north and joined the other Franciscans in Padua, where he started to lead a simple life of prayer and service in the spirit of Franciscan poverty.

His life took another turn when Anthony attended the ordination to the priesthood of a group of Franciscans and Dominicans. There was a misunderstanding about who was to deliver the homily and consequently nobody was prepared to deliver it! Anthony was instructed by his superior to deliver the homily even though he was not prepared. He obeyed, delivering a homily that was so beautiful and impressive that St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans, asked him to become a teacher to the Franciscan novices and priests. Anthony humbly accepted.

From then on, for some time, he taught in Universities in Northern Italy, but he became mostly known for his preaching, which although profound , was simple enough for everybody to understand. He continued his life as a humble Franciscan, characterized by his love for the poor, his saintly humility and as a worker of miracles.

He died on the 13th June 1231 when he was 36 years old. He was canonized a few years later. He was also declared as “Evangelical Doctor of the Church.” Anthony’s life had many twists and turns. He responded to the messages God sent in his life, accepting that God had plans that were different from what he had planned. Anthony’s purpose in life was to respond to God’s will.

  • Encourage the talk surrounding the classical question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The children’s response could just very well be an expression of a childish dream. This time follow it up with further talk  engaging them by asking ‘Why?’
  • Build on possible responses : eg. because I can help people / it makes me happy, vs. I can earn a lot of money/ become rich/ become important. Discuss what is really important!
  • As parents and guardians it is important to remember that our role is to guide our children to develop a sense of purpose in life keeping in mind the difference between ‘pushing and encouraging.’ It is a process that has its foundation in the building of their strengths, pointing them out for them, giving them credit for their talents and achievements.

    The invocation to St.Anthony to help us find lost items, stems from an experience that he had himself. A novice stole a precious book of Psalms he had. Anthony prayed to God for the book to be returned to him and eventually the novice did return the book.
  • Sometimes things do get lost even though we are careful. But most of the time we miss items because they are misplaced. Having things organized does save us a great deal of hassle of looking for things!
  • So let’s get organized! With the scholastic year coming to an end and with summer on the threshold, take the opportunity to engage the kids in organizing their toys, school stuff, drawers and cupboards in their room.
  • The secret to have it done pleasantly is to do it together with your children. Make it fun. Put on some songs. Prepare a treat for after!
  • Worth looking up “Let’s get organized” 

For Family Prayer Time, lead the children in addressing their ‘dream’ of what they would like to be when they grow up and why, and then put it in God’s hands. (Do this according to the children’s age)

St. Anthony is mostly depicted in images holding the Child Jesus because it is believed that he had a mystic experience of the Child Jesus. Dedicate time to recite chaplets from the Joyful Mysteries and focus on the Child Jesus.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.