Losing Objects and Losing Hearts; Bishop Reflects on St. Anthony of Padua

BRIDGEPORT—For as long as I could remember, today was an important day in my home. For today is the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of my parents’ home town in Italy and the saint for whom my sister was named (Antonia).

In fact, my mother had such a great devotion to Saint Anthony that she followed a very old Italian custom when my sister was born. She sewed and dressed my sister in a friar’s brown robe every day for the first year of her life, in thanksgiving for my sister’s birth. My mother suffered through three miscarriages before my sister was born and she asked Anthony’s protection to keep my sister safe.

This past Sunday, I was reminded of this custom after I celebrated an outdoor Mass at Saint Margaret’s Shrine in Bridgeport. A young woman presented me her infant son for a blessing, also dressed in a friar’s brown robe. Despite the heat, the little child was sleeping quietly in her arms. My prayer was that both she and her son would enjoy St. Anthony’s protection and intercession in the years ahead.

As we know, St. Anthony is the patron of lost things- the saint to whom we turn when we need help finding lost objects. When I was young, I often marveled how effective those prayers were, often finding what I was looking for after I asked Anthony’s help.

Now that I am older, I do not worry so much about losing objects as I worry about losing hearts. So many people are searching for a direction in life. They are lost in their journey. On this feast of Saint Anthony, let us pray that you and I may have the light, grace and words to help all who are lost to find their way to Christ. For I am confident that St. Anthony will help us to find those who are lost!

Artwork: original illustration of St. Anthony of Padua
by Priscilla Mahar, Fairfield County Catholic intern