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How St. Anthony Became the Patron Saint of Lost Items + Your Stories of His Intercession Latest

How St. Anthony Became the Patron Saint of Lost Items + Your Stories of His Intercession

Jun 11, 2021 by

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most popular and beloved saints in the Church—and surely one of the busiest! 

Best known as the Patron Saint of Lost and Stolen Items, it's hard to find someone who hasn't asked for his help in locating something. Stories of his miraculous intercession abound in every country among the faithful, both for finding lost things and for many other intentions.

My special devotion to this Franciscan preacher and teacher—so powerful before the throne of God—begins in my ancestry. You would be hard-pressed to find an Italian who does not revere and love St. Anthony of Padua. Despite his Portuguese heritage, the Italians lay claim to this miracle-worker who lived most of his life in Italy and died in Padua, a little west of Venice.

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My maternal grandfather, uncle, cousin, and sister all share his name and patronage, and he has always been one of our most beloved family saints. In my Italian family, he was considered a miracle worker for intentions we placed before him, and on my mother’s side of the family, he has been invoked with unshakeable confidence for generations. 

We have many amazing stories of his intercession—but here is one of my favorites.

A Personal Story

Some years ago, I misplaced my wedding rings, which had belonged to my husband’s paternal grandmother. I was convinced they were in our home, somewhere, and distraught when I could not find them. 

I asked St. Anthony’s intercession repeatedly. Whenever it came to mind, several times daily, I would utter a quick and simple prayer: “St. Anthony, I beg you to restore my wedding rings to me. You have never failed us. I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.”

Three years later, we sold our house, and were preparing to relocate. I was convinced that my rings were there but had not found them. Though I had prayed to St. Anthony for the return of the rings daily, I had never prayed a novena to him for this intention in the days before his feast.

My mom kept encouraging me, saying, “St. Anthony has never failed us. Keep praying.” 

After all, we had tasked him for generations with intentions great and small, and never once had he failed to intercede.

St. Anthony of Padua with the People - Photo Credit

Praying a Novena to St. Anthony

That year, I prayed a novena ending on the vigil of his feast, which happens to be my birthday. With great hope that he would restore my rings to me on the feast day, I offered my Mass every day that week in thanksgiving for his intercession in my family. I felt excited to see what our faithful family saint would do.

The vigil arrived, and after we put the children to bed that night, I went to our foyer, where his framed picture had been displayed on a gold sconce for years. I knelt down as usual and prayed my final novena prayer for the return of my rings.

It had been a long summer day, and I climbed the stairs lamenting that I had not gone through our closets and purged before our move. I had planned to take unwanted items to the Good Will store in the morning so I had less clothing to pack.

Life with young children in those days was busy, especially in the summertime. I dreaded relocating, and I kept putting off the task of purging the closets before packing our clothes, though most of our other items were already boxed and stacked everywhere around us.

My St. Anthony Home Altar Prepared for His Feast Day

His Miraculous Intercession

Garbage bag in hand, I opened the closet I shared with my husband. I told myself I would start with one small thing and just keep going, one step at a time, finishing our closet that night, then doing the children's closets in the morning. I reached for a basket about the size of a shoebox that held twenty-years-worth of buttons and other findings. It had been around since the old days, when clothing came with extra buttons, threads, and accents for mending. 

I admit it was a pitiful attempt, but I had limited desire and energy for the rest of the closet, it was late at night, and I needed to start small. I dumped the entire basket into the garbage bag, feeling I had at least made a start at purging and thinking how silly it was to save twenty years of extra buttons when I could not recall needing a single one. 

As I dumped them into the garbage bag, I saw something glimmer. With a surge of astonishment and anticipation, I emptied the garbage bag out on the floor of the closet.

My rings! They were there among the buttons! 

I kept the basket next to my jewelry box on the closet shelf. The rings must have fallen in, remaining undisturbed at the bottom of the button basket for the last three years. I had almost thrown them away after searching for them all this time! I could hardly believe it. Not only had I found them on the vigil of the feast, which is my birthday, but St. Anthony saved me from unknowingly throwing them in the garbage!

I screamed, "Praise God!" and got on my knees right there in the closet, praying in thanksgiving to St. Anthony. My husband heard me cry out, and came into the room to find me moved to tears and exclaiming, as my mother had, “He has never failed us!”

Each year prior to his feast, when I pray his novena, I place his picture and my rings on a home altar as a reminder of the faithfulness of God and St. Anthony in answering my prayer.

The Vision of St. Anthony of Padua by Murillo

The Origin of His Well-Known Patronage

Catholics invoke St. Anthony to find lost or stolen items due to an experience from the life of this remarkable saint:

So, St. Anthony kept a special book of the Psalms with him at all times. In the 13th century, before the invention of printing, books were extremely valuable. They were especially important to a teacher like St. Anthony.

This Psalter, or book of Psalms, was his particular favorite because he had copied it by hand, and notated it extensively for his teaching and preaching. It was a constant companion in his work for the Lord.

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A novice who was Anthony’s pupil decided to depart the community, determining that religious life was not for him. Not only did he leave, but he took the precious book belonging to his teacher! 

St. Anthony was deeply distressed, having no way to track down the young man. But he prayed to God that his student would have a change of heart.

Not only did his student have a change of heart and return the book, but after requesting and receiving the forgiveness of St. Anthony, he returned to religious life with the conviction that he was meant to serve God and the Church. 

This same book is preserved today in the Franciscan Monastery in Bologna, Italy. 

After St. Anthony’s death, the story led the faithful to begin praying to him as the Patron Saint of Lost or Stolen Items—and not only misplaced objects, but also souls in need of prayers for conversion or return to the Faith.

 St. Anthony Serving the Poor - Photo Credit Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP

St. Anthony's Bread

Many give "St. Anthony's Bread" as an offering to the poor in thanksgiving for his intercession. This is true not just for the finding of lost things, but for any prayer intention. The saint had a particular love for the poor and was known for easing their sufferings in any way he could. 

In 1263, when a young boy drowned near St. Anthony's Basilica, which was being constructed in Padua, his mother cried out to St. Anthony to bring him back to life. She promised to give the weight of her son in grain to the poor, so they could make bread, which was a great gift in a time of extreme poverty and hunger. Her son was miraculously revived, and she kept her promise. 

Later, in 1888, a French baker in Toulon named Louise Bouffier could not open the doors to her bakery one morning, and had to call a locksmith. He could not unlock them either, despite many master keys and failed attempts. The locksmith left to obtain the means to break down the doors. Distressed at the damage, expense, and impact of this option, Louise prayed to St. Anthony while awaiting the return of the locksmith. 

She offered to give her bakery's bread to the poor for his intercession. The doors inexplicably opened when the locksmith returned. Louise fulfilled her commitment, and her shop became a special place of devotion to the saint.

The Franciscan Order now manages a charity called St. Anthony's Bread for the aid of the poor, and encourages this sacrifice as a means of thanksgiving when St. Anthony answers the prayers of his faithful spiritual companions. 

Your Stories of St. Anthony's Miraculous Intercession

We love hearing about how our heavenly patrons intercede and act on behalf of us all. 

With that in mind, we asked our employees and social media followers for their favorite St. Anthony stories. We received dozens and dozens of responses; we wish we had room to share them all, but are excited to share at least some of them with you here! 

We hope the stories below will inspire and encourage you to ask for the intercession of this beloved saint. 

Good St. Anthony, please come around. Something's lost and must be found.

The cross-country rosary

"My mum had a particular attachment to a set of rosary beads in the late 1940s. She was travelling by train from London to Manchester. She got home to Manchester and realized she had lost her rosary beads. She was very upset. She prayed to St. Anthony and went to the train station every day for two weeks hoping that someone might have handed them in. No luck! Then she put a "lost" ad in the newspapers with her name and address.

Six months later a man came to her home. He explained that he had found her beads on the train but had travelled on to Manchester so he couldn’t leave them in lost property. In those days fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper. So one evening as he was eating his fish and chips he saw my mum's advertisement! My mum was overjoyed to be reunited with her beads!" - Jo

The metro-riding backpack

I think my favorite story of St. Anthony’s intercession will always be my dad's: He once took me and my little sisters and cousins to downtown DC. At one point, in the rush to get all the little girls off the metro, he left his backpack behind...with his camera, wallet, and phone inside. This is the DC we’re all thinking that's "goodbye forever" to all his belongings.

We prayed to St. Anthony, and somehow my dad found enough coins to use a payphone (this was like 2003) to call his phone, hoping someone would hear it in the backpack and pick it up. After several unsuccessful attempts, someone picked up the phone! My dad coordinated with him to drop the backpack off at the security station of one of the metro stops. Right before they hung up my dad was thanking him profusely and asked what his name was. And of course...his name was Anthony. - Ashley

The keys in the lake

When I was about 12, I dropped a set of keys in the lake. I ran home and got a string with some magnets on it and started "fishing" for the keys where I had dropped them. After a few minutes, I had exhausted my patience and was ready to give up. I said a prayer to St. Anthony and prepared to make "one last" attempt to fish for them. But my hand slipped and I ended up tossing the magnet several feet away from where the keys had dropped. I thought I had surely wasted my last throw. But low and behold, I pulled those keys right up on that last throw. - Chris

The missing soldier

My great grandma received word that my grandpa, a soldier, had gone missing in the Philippines. She grabbed her statue of St. Anthony and wrapped a blanket around him and put him in the closet, and told him she was not going to take him out until he found her son. My grandpa was a POW for 4 years. When she found out that he was found and coming home she took St. Anthony out of the closet. - Trisha

The sapphire necklace

When I graduated from high school my sister and two younger brothers gave me a star sapphire necklace. Several years after that, I couldn't find my necklace anywhere. I prayed and prayed to Saint Anthony who had always helped me in the past. After two years I had finally given up; I was not destined to find my necklace. One day I walked out of my bedroom and into the hallway and there was my necklace in the middle of the floor, just lying there. I learned then that Anthony doesn't always answer immediately. But he does answer. I am 72 years old and I have never forgotten how grateful I was to have that necklace back. - Theresa

Anthony impresses the Protestants

After our first trip to Europe, I overheard my Baptist husband telling a group of other protestant friends at a dinner party about how I had prayed to Saint Anthony and he had seen me find so many things that I had lost that he was afraid he’d have to build a chapel to Saint Anthony before we left Europe to come home! - Betty

The perpetually missing rosary ring

When I was 13, I had a rosary ring from Monte Cassino Abbey in Italy. I loved that rosary ring; I loved how I could pray the rosary anywhere and have it be subtle, unnoticeable. I wore it all the time. Problem was, I had a bad habit of losing it. I would lose it for days and weeks at a time, to my great worry. My friend recommended I ask St Anthony to pray for me, and so that's just what I started doing. Whenever I lost the ring, I'd ask St Anthony to pray for me, and he'd always find it within a day or two. But one day, during my sophomore year of high school, I lost it at the school's dunk tank fundraiser. Sadly, I never found the ring. But, as my mom said, "St. Anthony had been finding your ring for too long - I think he's done looking for it!" I never found the ring, but I thank St. Anthony for interceding for me those hundreds of times. - Monique

Lost joy

I had a major anxiety issue last year and felt like someone had thrown me down a hole. I couldn't do anything or go anywhere because I felt sick all the time. I prayed to Saint Anthony to help me find my lost joy, and he did; a little piece at a time, but now it's all back and I am well again! - Melanie

The Miraculous Medal from Sister

A religious sister from the Missionaries of Charity came to visit my son’s 3rd grade class. She gave each of them a Miraculous Medal. My son was so excited when I picked him up from school to tell me about the experience of having her come visit. He wanted to put the medal on a chain and wear it to school. He put it on the next morning and when he got to school, he took his sweatshirt off and the medal was not on the chain. He was devastated. All of his other classmates were wearing theirs and he felt so bad that it was gone. 

When I picked him up from school, he was very sad. I told him we could get another one, but that wasn’t going to make him happy. He wanted the one "from Sister Gianna". That evening we were outside playing and he was still so sad. I looked up a prayer to St. Anthony and I had him say it with me. Literally 5 minutes later, I was walking by the swing set; the sun was shining down on the grass... and there was the Miraculous Medal shimmering in the sun. Such a happy moment! - LaRissa

"Hey Tony, it's me, Ann"

He has helped me find so many things. Some incredible finds. My friends and family sometimes call me up to pray to him for them! My friend says I lose so many things and make so many prayer requests that we are on s first name basis. She says that I say, "Hey Tony, it's me, Ann!" He is one of my favorite Saints. - Ann

A husband...and follower of Anthony

Since I was 16 years old I prayed a special novena prayer to St. Anthony every night, asking him to find me find my future spouse. It took a while, and I had many doubts that it would ever happen, but after 9 years I met the man I was meant to marry. We have been blessed with 7 years of marriage now. As it happens, my husband is of Italian heritage and his last name means "follower of St. Anthony". If that's not intercession I don't know what is! - Anne

A new heart

My son needed a heart transplant and St. Anthony found him a fantastic match, which was completed on St. Anthony's feast day in 2016. He is doing well. Thank you St. Anthony! - Melissa

A talent for finding diamonds and rings

While your stories show us that St. Anthony can find just about anything, we noticed that he seems to be particularly skilled at finding your lost diamonds and wedding rings. 

There were enough of these stories that we decided they needed their own post! Read more: Why St. Anthony Should Be Formally Named the Patron of Lost Diamond Rings + Your Stories

Do you have a story to share?  Please tell us about it here.