Posted by: fvbcdm | June 13, 2012

Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua (13 June 2012)

Today the Church celebrates a favorite saint whom we call Saint Anthony of Padua.  And for us Dominicans, there are several unusual aspects to our celebration.  For one thing, Saint Anthony of Padua was born not in Padua, as we might expect, but rather in the city of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.  Padua is in Italy, quite close to Venice.  This Anthony joined the Franciscan friars the same year that our Father Saint Dominic died—1221. He traveled extensively in Europe preaching the gospel with great enthusiasm.  He died very near Padua and his body is still venerated there.  Thus he has come to be called Anthony of Padua rather than of Lisbon.  He is often invoked to find things that have been lost or misplaced.  This custom comes from a tradition that a thief stole an expensive book which he was using in his studies.  Anthony prayed for its return, and the thief soon returned to give back the stolen book after seeing a powerful vision that moved him to restore what he had taken.

In our parish church in New Orleans when I was a child, there was a statue of Saint Anthony next to an almsbox.  Every Saturday morning, my aunt stopped there on her way out of church after Mass to give Saint Anthony “his allowance,” as she called it. There is, also in New Orleans, a parish called Saint Anthony which has for over a century been staffed by our Dominican priests and brothers.  It started as a mortuary chapel, situated within the parish of Saint Louis Cathedral and near the cemeteries just behind the parish which embraced the old French Quarter.  When Archbishop Chapelle brought Dominicans to New Orleans from abroad, he asked them to staff that small chapel which bore the name of Saint Anthony of Padua.  The ministry there increased greatly and soon the chapel of Saint Anthony was converted into the parish of Saint Anthony and located in another part of town, where it is today.  So now we have the unusual case of a Dominican parish with a Franciscan name, several miles away from where it got its start. May Saint Anthony bless you and me. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P. 


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