Br. Mark’s St. Anthony Story
Tony and Tyler
When I was a child, my very pious maternal grandmother always prayed to Saint Anthony whenever something had been lost. I can still hear her saying, “Tony, Tony! Look around. Something’s lost and can’t be found!” She assured me that the saint always came through for her and always found her lost articles.
Growing up, I tried chanting that little chant but it never seemed to work for me. My lost items stayed lost! My first year in the Franciscan Order was spent at Saint Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati, Ohio where I met lots of pilgrims coming to the Shrine to thank Saint Anthony for finding their lost articles. As I learned more about Saint Anthony, I discovered he had been a remarkable preacher and a man who loved the scriptures very much. I was confirmed in my belief that people who only saw Saint Anthony as a finder of lost articles had really missed what was important in he life of this great saint from Padua.
Many years later I was ministering in the mountains of Appalachia in the town of Harlan, Kentucky. I shared life in the Friary with a Himalayan cat named Tyler. A day came when I misplaced my checkbook. It was not in the desk drawer where I usually kept it. I looked everywhere it could possibly be and was initially not too worried. I knew it would turn up. But it did not. Three days later I was still searching for it and after looking everywhere it could possibly be, I finally decided to face reality: it was lost for good! This meant I would have to go to the bank, close the account, open a new one, and transfer monies from the old account into the new and then wait for new checks to be printed.
As I sat down on the edge of my bed to put on my shoes to make the trip to the bank, I recall saying aloud, “So much for you, Saint Anthony! A lot of good you have been in finding my checkbook.” The words had barely left my lips when suddenly I felt something hit the heel of my right foot. I looked down, and there was my checkbook—right on the floor, right next to my foot! Suddenly, a strange other-worldy feeling came over me. Something strange was happening here! All of my years of disbelief came to a head and I recall myself wondering, “How did that happen? Tony! You really do find lost articles!” At that instant I felt something else touch my heel and, looking down, I watched as Tyler emerged from beneath the bed, searching for the checkbook he had just batted out from its hiding place! Little did I know that Saint Anthony was in cahoots with a Himalayan cat named Tyler.
So, today I am a believer in Saint Anthony’s ability to find lost items. But I know he does not always work alone. Sometimes he’s assisted by others—even by a cat!
(Br. Mark Ligett serves at the St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, PA)
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