It is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua today, a saint the world tends to associate with Italy but who was actually born in Lisbon! Every family has a preferred saint they have a special devotion to, and my parents were both staunch Marian devotees, a faith strengthened by our years in Mexico and Our Lady of Guadalupe. So I grew up with the apparition stories of Fatima, Lourdes and Mexico, instilling in me a deeply rooted faith and hope.
I first met St. Anthony in Mexico, when I visited numerous houses where the statue of St. Anthony had been turned upside down. As a child you tend not to question such peculiarities and it was only much later that I discovered that this practice was common among families with single women in search of a boyfriend or husband. St. Anthony remained on his head the wish was granted.
I associate St. Anthony more with missing things or lost causes, especially when I moved to Germany. It was here that I learned the irreverent shortcut prayer to SAP, the patron saint of lost things. It has worked for me a few times, albeit not not with 100% effectivity:
Tony, Tony come around, something’s lost and must be found!
We assigned St. Anthony to my daughter to be her special guardian since she tended to lose a lot of things, in addition to her way. So when she moved to Florence for college I made sure SAP was the first thing she packed! As luck would have it, when she had to flee Florence on 2020 due to the pandemic, St. Anthony was left behind and lost to eternity, as she never returned and all her things were disposed of subsequently. It’s one thing to lose an item and pray to SAP, but whole different ballgame to lose the saint himself! This could not have been a good omen… and true enough, the months that followed were rough.
So here I am, in Lisbon, the birthplace of St. Anthony, on his feast day no less! and blogging from the station waiting for the missing trains because not only is it another bank holiday, the trains are on strike again. I suppose it is safe to say that my reunion with this particular saint is anything but dull and predictable, especially compared to my visit to his basilica in Padua.
There are a lot of things missing in my life, and St Ignatius of Loyola will always be my patron saint for as long as I live, but I cannot deny storming the heavens this morning to plead with Tony to get me to work somehow!