I found St. Anthony!
Or did he find me?
My story is somewhat long, but it felt right to share it now.
I am Catholic and was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I moved away to the Washington DC area shortly after I graduated from college and got married. In 2008, however, my life changed forever. That summer, my grandmother, who had been my biggest support system, passed away.
While home for her funeral I decided to pass on a beloved activity my grandma and I shared when she was alive. We loved to go to thrift stores and search for treasures. I took my young daughter and two sons to my grandma's favorite store and while there found a statue of a Saint randomly placed in a bin near the checkout area. I couldn’t for the life of me identify him. I saw that he was holding a baby and thought St Christopher but knew that wasn’t right. I felt so sad for this lost statue. I knew he had to have belonged to somebody who loved him and felt like he needed to come home with me. And try as I might I couldn’t identify which Saint he was.
Shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and shortly after that I found out that my husband of 13 years was struggling with an addiction he had up until that point kept a secret from me.
Unfortunately, despite help, 2 days before I was to go into the hospital for surgery and treatment, he wiped out our bank accounts and left me and our three children with nothing. Fortunately my father and my sister-in-law stepped in to help me. And although I asked, neither my father nor my sister-in-law could identify my Saint statue either.
Sometime after my surgery as I was going through treatment for cancer, my sister-in-law took me to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There I prayed at every single chapter of Mary for help, and in the back of my mind I thought, maybe I could find out who my Saint statue was. I now felt very close to this Saint who had shown up at my grandma's favorite store. They had a gift shop at the Basilica and I hoped to be able to go in and find his likeness and ask who he was. To my surprise at the entrance was a GIANT statue of my Saint. I knew the answers must be inside the store.
Sure enough after much description to a sales associate we found my Saint. There was Saint Anthony in a display case with many others looking exactly like my one at home. I said out loud, "Oh, how funny. I FOUND St. Anthony! He was lost." and then a moment later tears came to my eyes and I said, "Oh, no, it was the other way around. St. Anthony FOUND me. I have been so very lost." He had come to me in my darkest hour. Somehow this Saint whose name I couldn't even remember had taken the time to seek me out. To offer me help without me even really knowing.
My Sister-in-law bought me a little booklet about St. Anthony and I began to read and pray in earnest to him. I did a little research and found to my surprise that his shrine was in my hometown, Cincinnati.
I thought that a little odd as that's where I'm from and then memories began trickling in. Now, we attended two churches in Cincinnati. The first was St. Johns in Colerain and the other was St. James in White Oak. But... My Aunt would often take my cousin and I when we were little to St. Anthony's. I believe she knew someone there or my cousin, who was a priest, might have been there, I cannot remember as I must have been 4 years old or younger at the time. I do remember my cousin and I loved to walk around and look at the pretty church. One day, we wandered away from my Aunt and ended up in the shrine. A priest came and found us and picked us up and showed us all the statues including the statue and shrine of St. Anthony and told us who they all were. He was so kind and spent some time with us until my Aunt came looking for us and found us. I have never forgotten my times spent there. It was always so peaceful, and yet, I had completely forgotten that it was the Shrine of St. Anthony. How funny that as a young child I had gotten lost and found in the Shrine. It occurred to me that St. Anthony has been, "Finding" me all my life.
Since then I have always found comfort in praying to St. Anthony. For some reason, and by God's grace St. Anthony sought me out and continues to do so in my life. He continues to "Find" me and gives me hope whenever I feel lost.
I still have my statue. It has traveled all over the country and suffered damage from moving, and been repaired many times, but he always goes with me.
I have been truly blessed to have had a Saint guide me through my darkest times.
Fortunately, I recovered from the cancer and am doing well. My now ex-husband did eventually seek help and is doing well in his recovery from his addiction.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you, And thank you St. Anthony for everything!!!
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