Feast Day: 13 June
Patronage: Lost things
Saint Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal. Born into a wealthy family, by the age of fifteen he asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, Portugal where he learned theology and Latin.
Following his ordination to the priesthood, he was named guestmaster and was responsible for the abbey’s hospitality. When Franciscan friars settled a small hermitage outside Coimbra dedicated to Saint Anthony of Egypt, Fernando longed to join them and he eventually received permission to leave the Abbey so he could join the new Franciscan Order. Once admitted, he changed his name to Anthony.
Anthony then traveled to Morocco to spread God’s word, but became extremely sick and was returned to Portugal to recover. The return voyage was blown off-course and the party arrived in Sicily, from which they traveled to Tuscany. Athony was assigned to the hermitage of San Paolo after local friars considered his health. As he recovered, Anthony spent his time praying and studying.
Gaining a reputation as an eloquent speaker, he became friends with Francis of Assisi, who entrusted his own friars’ pursuits of studies to Anthony. Anthony had a book of psalms that containing notes and comments to help when teaching students which was valuable to him, at a time when the printing press was not yet invented. The story goes that the book was stolen by a young novice leaving the Order. Anthony prayed it would be found and returned to him. The thief did return the book and returned to the Order as well! The book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna today.
Anthony was a renowned preacher, with all being able to understand his messages. Anthony was 35-years-old when he died and was canonized less than one year afterward by Pope Gregory IX. Upon exhumation some 336 years after his death, his body was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, so perfect were the teachings that had been formed upon it.
He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus and is commonly referred to today as the “finder of lost articles.”