"Tony, Tony, Turn Around, Something’s Lost And Must be Found!"
Lost something today? Better pray to Saint Anthony, the patron of lost things. And pretty much of anything that's missing in one's life; children, a significant other, whatever or just plain missing oneself, invoke St. Anthony and he might just help.
Born in August 15, 1195 as Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal, he died on June 13, 1231 as Anthony in Padua, Italy. Making today, June 13, his feast day. A Franciscan saint, he is popularly known as Saint Anthony of Padua, much to the dismay of his fellow Portuguese, who are always quick to point out that Anthony is from Lisbon and as such, should be called "Santo Antônio de Lisboa."
A retablo depicting San Antonio de Padua
Either way, St. Anthony has become much beloved and considered by many Catholics all over as one of their favorite saints, as proven by the many churches and chapels that bear his name. The fact that his canonization into sainthood in a little less than a year after his death remarkable and attest to his popularity even with his contemporaries.
And like many people, St. Anthony has a special place in my heart and altar. So it is not surprising to know that his depiction is one that I have sculpted most thus far. Well, perhaps second or third after that of the Virgin and Jesus Christ.
San Antonio santos I've created through the years.
St. Anthony had became identified with lost things so much so that Catholics through out the ages invoke his aide whenever they lose something
What's rather amusing is how he became the patron saint of lost things. According to legends, St. Anthony had lost a favorite Psalter. It turns out a novice who had grown tired of monastic life, had left the monastery and in his leave, had stolen Anthony's book. St. Anthony prayed for the return of his precious item and soon after, came a terrified novice with the book in hand. The shaken novice recounted that a terrible demon threatened him if he did not bring back the book!
A San Antonio santo sans its Niño, Christ Child.
And in a reversal of roles, a peculiar practice that is also associated with St. Anthony involves hiding something from the saint; removing the Christ Child figure from the saint's arms.
St. Anthony's images always carry a Niño, the depiction of the Young Jesus as part of Anthony's established iconography.
Women who wanted a husband or children would remove the Christ Child figure and hide it from St. Anthony, murmuring into the saint's ears that they would only return his precious Niñoif their petitions have been granted!
All over the world today, the popular and much beloved St. Anthony is celebrated. ¡San Antonio, ora pro nobis!
Text & Photos Victor Ancheta ©2009