SINGAPORE – St. Anthony of Padua is best known for being the saint to turn to when looking for lost items and has many followers in Singapore.
Janet Lim, secretary at CANA The Catholic Centre, shares a recent experience with the saint: “Just last week, I asked Tony (the affectionate way she calls him) to help look for old tapes of my niece singing when she was a little girl. Between my sister’s home and mine, we couldn’t find them. I had just thrown out a box full of old tapes then and I thought, ‘What if... [they were amongst those]?’ So, I asked Tony to please help and the very next day, my sister found the tapes!”
Patricia Koh too, has had similar experiences. One of them happened recently when she attended a church camp and the key to the kitchen was misplaced.
“We asked around and nobody saw it,” she recalled. “We went home to search for it and still couldn’t find it. I decided to pray to St. Anthony for help and a little later the key was found hanging at the key hole! We were so relieved!”
Apparently, St. Anthony does more than just help locate lost items. He can even help you find car parking lots, testified Franciscan Brother Derrick Yap.
“We friars have a special devotion to St. Anthony, especially here in Singapore, because he is the patron of our custody of Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei,” Brother Derrick said.
“Besides putting ideas in my head where to look for lost items, I beseech his help to find empty parking lots. I’ll say ‘San Antonion, ora pro nobis’ (St. Anthony, pray for us) and 90 percent of the time, an empty lot pops up in five seconds. It sounds quite funny but it’s true.”
Christina Wong from Church of Sts. Peter and Paul tells of how she has “expanded St. Anthony’s ‘job description’”. Besides asking him to help her locate missing documents at work, she now turns to him when “I’m lost in the midst of discussions” or when she feels “lost and trying to find my way daily”.
For Diana Koh from ACMA and NET, St. Anthony, who is her patron saint as she adopted a French variation of his name for her confirmation, has truly been her guide – “not only in finding things but even finding people”. The latest incidence, according to Ms Koh, was when she couldn’t locate her girl friend at a London airport (despite many emails to coordinate their arrival time and meeting place) and “lo and behold, before the prayer left my lips, there she was standing before me!”
“St. Anthony never fails!” she remarked.
Here in Singapore, devotions to St. Anthony are held in certain parishes on Tuesdays. Church of St. Anthony holds it at 8.00pm; Church of St. Mary of the Angels after the 6.30pm Mass; and St. Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street), where Our Lady of Fatima processions are held on every 13th of the month, St. Anthony’s statue is carried too in the procession on Jun 13.
St. Anthony’s role in helping one find lost items becomes clearer when the Litany is prayed during this devotion – intercessions to St. Anthony are made for those who have lost health or their peace of mind, their homes, jobs or loved ones, and even their zeal, sobriety, faith, self-respect and innocence.
Father John Khoo started this devotion to the patron saint of the parish when he was parish priest (1982-2002). He initiated the same devotion at Church of St. Stephen where he became parish priest in 2002.
It is said that the devotees helped raise much needed funds to build the new Church of St. Anthony at Woodlands and to renovate the Church of St. Stephen!
Why devotions are held on Tuesdays
The book of Novena to St. Anthony compiled by St. Anthony parish tells the story of a lady of rank who had turned to the saint for help, in 1617. She then dreamt of the saint asking her to pray for nine consecutive Tuesdays. She did and obtained her blessing. St. Anthony himself then proclaimed his preference for this devotion. The Novena of nine Tuesdays in honour of St. Anthony of Padua immediately spread across Europe.
The book continues: “While, therefore, we may confidently expect, in the providence, of God, that we shall obtain our requests, we must never lose sight of the fact that St. Anthony’s miraculous powers were but the outward manifestation of his sublime inner union with God. And so, while we pray to the tender, sympathetic Saint for temporal favours, our prayers should be ‘that the will of God be entirely fulfilled in us’.”
Church of St. Anthony celebrates its feastday on Saturday Jun 13.
Finder of lost articles
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA was canonised less than one year after his death at the age of 36.
There is perhaps no more loved saint than Saint Anthony of Padua. He first joined the Augustinian Order and then left it and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when the headless and mutilated bodies of five Franciscan protomartyrs were brought to St. Anthony’s monastery from Morocco for burial. St. Anthony became a Franciscan in the hope of shedding his own blood and becoming a martyr
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. Pope Pius XII made him a Doctor of the Church in 1946 but today St. Anthony is more popularly known as the “finder of lost articles”.
He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus as is shown in this photo of the statue of the saint at Church of St. Anthony at Woodlands.
By Joyce Gan