Popular Devotions in Honour of St. Anthony

The devotion of the Nine Tuesdays
On the Tuesday following the death of St. Anthony the people of Padua carried his body to its last resting place in the church of Our Blessed Lady which was attached to the Franciscan Friary at Padua. The occasion was marked by great splendour and enthusiasm, and the cortege moved through the city to the music of bells and joyous hymns.  The day was marked, too, by an extraordinary number of miracles. The biographers of the Saint tell us that "the blind regained their sight, the deaf their hearing, and the lame the use of their limbs. Every grace and favour asked for in faith and confidence was granted."

The people were so impressed by the wonderful things they had witnessed that they began to observe Tuesdays as days of special devotion in honour of their saint. However, as time went on the practice fell into disuse until, in 1616, St. Anthony himself revived it in the form of a novena of nine consecutive Tuesdays.

In that year-1616 "there lived at Bologna a noble and pious couple, who after twenty two years of married life were childless. One day the lonely wife, kneeling before the altar of St. Anthony in the Franciscan church, laid before the saint the sorrow of her life and begged his intercession.  And lo! the saint himself appeared before her and bade her to visit his altar and pray before it on nine consecutive Tuesdays. This she did, and in the course of time became a mother. But to the bitter disappointment of the parents, the infant was found to be horribly deformed. This new sorrow, however, proved to be but a further trial of their faith. The mother brought the baby to the altar of the saint, and on touching it to the stone, all trace of deformity immediately disappeared."  (Franciscan Almanac.)

The grateful parents spread everywhere the news of the miracle and very soon the devotion of the Nine Tuesdays became very popular throughout Europe. Today it is practised  universally through the world. It had always proved to be a marvellously efficacious means of winning St. Anthony's assistance.

The following plan is suggested for making the Novena. (i) Receive, if possible, the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Eucharist on nine consecutive Tuesdays. This may be done in any church. (ii) Visit, on each of the Tuesdays, a church, if possible a Franciscan church, and before a statue or relic of St. Anthony, recite appropriate prayers. If the church cannot be visited visited, the prayers may be said at home before a statue or a picture of the saint. (iii) To gain the plenary indulgence on each Tuesday of the Novena, receive the Sacraments, visit a Franciscan church during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and there pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. (This indulgence can be gained on each Tuesday of the year on these same conditions.)

No particular prayers are prescribed for the Novena, but the following are commonly used.

Prayers for the Devotion of the  Nine Tuesdays
O Jesus my Saviour! Who didst vouchsafe to appear to St. Anthony in the form of an Infant, I implore Thee, through the love Thou didst bear to this saint when he dwelt on earth, and which Thou now bearest to Him in Heaven, graciously hear my prayer and assist me in my necessities. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

O glorious St. Anthony, safe refuge of the afflicted and distressed, who hast revealed that all who piously invoke thee at thy altar on nine consecutive Tuesdays shall experience the power of thy intercession. Encouraged by thy promise and by the knowledge of the wonderful favours and graces, which God bestows on those who piously invoke thy intercession, I come to thee, O powerful Saint, and with a firm hope I implore thy aid, thy protection, thy counsel, and thy blessing. Obtain for me, I beseech thee, my request. (Pause here and make your request.) But if it should be opposed to the Will of God and the welfare of my soul, obtain for me such other graces as shall be conducive to my salvation. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen
Then say One Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory, followed by the Responsory.

The Miraculous Responsory
This powerful and highly indulgenced prayer, sometimes known as the "Si quaeris" from the first words of the Latin translation, is generally attributed to St. Bonaventure, and is considered to have been composed by him on the occasion of the discovery of the incorrupt tongue of St. Anthony. This remarkable discovery was made in the year 1263 when the saint's relics were transferred to the magnificent Basilica which had been built in his honour in Padua.

When the tomb was opened it was found that the flesh had crumbled to dust but that the tongue was intact, and had the appearance of the tongue of a living man
The responsory is a very popular means of honouring St. Anthony and of seeking his aid, especially in the recovery of things that have been lost.

         The Responsory
         If you seek for miracles,
         Death, error, all calamities,
         The demons fly, and leprosy,
         And health succeeds infirmities.
         The sea obeys and fetters break,
         And lifeless limbs thou dost restore;
         Whilst treasures lost are found again,
         When young and old thine
         aid  implore.         

         All dangers vanish at thy prayer,
         The direst need doth quickly flee.
         Let those who know thy power proclaim,
         Let Paduans say these are of thee.

         The sea obeys and fetters break,
         And lifeless limbs thou dost restore;
         Whilst treasures lost are found again,
        When young and old thine
         aid  implore.         
         To Father, Son may glory be
         And Holy Ghost eternally.

         The sea obeys and fetters break,
         And lifeless limbs thou dost restore;

         Whilst treasures lost are found again,
         When young and old thine
         aid  implore.         
V.          Pray for us, Blessed Anthony.
R.          That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray
O God, may the votive commemoration of Blessed Anthony, Thy Confessor, be a source of joy to Thy Church, that she may always be fortified with spiritual assistance, and deserve to enjoy eternal happiness. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.   Amen

St Bonaventure is also the author of another devotion in honour of the saint. It is known as the Chaplet or Rosary of St. Anthony and is recited while meditating on the thirteen petitions of the Responsory.

The Chaplet
1. St. Anthony who raiseth the dead, pray for those Christians now in their agony and for our dear departed.-Our Mary, Glory.
2. St. Anthony, zealous preacher of the Gospel, fortify us against the errors of the enemies of God, and pray for the Pope and the Church.-Our Father, etc.
3. St. Anthony, powerful with the Heart of Jesus, preserve us from the calamities which threaten us on account of our sins.-Our Father, etc.
4. St. Anthony, who drivest away devils, make us triumph over their snares.-Our Father, etc.
5. St. Anthony, lily of heavenly purity, purify us from the stains of the soul, and preserve our bodies from all dangers.-Our Father, etc.
6. St. Anthony, healer of the sick, cure our diseases and preserve us in health.- Our Father etc.
7. St. Anthony guide of travellers, bring to safe harbour those who are in danger of perishing, and calm the troubled waves of passion which agitate our souls.-Our Father, etc.
8. St. Anthony, liberator of captives, deliver us from the captivity of evil-Our Father, etc.
9. St. Anthony, who restorest to young and old the use of their limbs, obtain for us the perfect use of the senses of our body, and the faculties of our soul.-Our Father, etc.
10. St. Anthony finder of lost things, help us to find all that we have lost in the spiritual and in the temporal order.-Our Father, etc.
11. St. Anthony, protected by Mary, avert the dangers which threaten our body and our soul.-Our Father, etc.
12. St. Anthony, helper of the poor, help us in our needs and give bread and work to those who ask.-Our Father, etc.
13. St. Anthony, we thankfully proclaim thy miraculous power, and we beseech thee to protect us all the days of our life.-Our Father, etc.

This form of devotion also dates from the thirteenth century. It originated through a miracle of which the following is an authoritative account:

"A certain woman of Lisbon frequently suffered from dreadful convulsions which seemed to indicate demoniacal possession.  One day her husband, taunting her with her affliction, attributed it to guilt, whereupon the unfortunate woman was so cruelly upset that she determined to put an end to her life by drowning herself in the Tagus. While on her way to carry out her terrible resolution she passed a church of the Friars Minor.  She bethought herself that it was the feast of St. Anthony, and it occurred to her to enter to say a last prayer.

While praying she fell into a kind of trance. She seemed to see the Saint standing near her, gazing at her gravely and compassionately, and holding in his hands a piece of parchment. This he gave to her, with the words 'Arise woman, and take this paper, which will free you from the molestations of the Evil One.' On coming to herself she was amazed to find in her hands the parchment. It bore these words from the book of the Apocalypse 'Behold the Cross of the Lord; fly, all hostile powers! The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath conquered, Alleluia. Alleluia!'   Calm and hopeful, the woman returned home, and from that day forward, as long as she kept the precious document in her possession, she was never troubled by the demon.

''Now it happened that the husband, in his gratitude for the favour received, published it everywhere. The story came to the ears of the king of Portugal. He had the woman brought before him, and was so impressed that he induced her to give him the parchment. The result was that the woman again became subject to her old affliction. In great distress the husband appealed to the Friars Minor to intercede with the monarch for the restoration of the precious document. They did so, but succeeded in obtaining only a copy, which, however, was found to have the same efficacy, as the original.'' (Franciscan Almanac.)

Copies of the Brief were made and distributed and its efficacy as a protection against dangers both to soul and body has been proved since in many striking ways. One such example is worth mentioning. In the winter of 1708 a French warship was over taken by a terrific storm off the coast of Brittany.  She was soon in distress and all hope was abandoned. Then the chaplain in the name of the crew invoked the aid of St Anthony. He wrote on a piece of paper the words of the brief and threw it into the sea saying  "O great St Anthony hear our prayers." Immediately the wind dropped and the sea became calm and the vessel reached port safely. The brief may be worn on the person or carried in a purse and no special prayers are prescribed. All that is necessary is confidence in the saint's protection. The brief may be copied on paper cloth or metal.

True son of St Francis that he was St Anthony had a great love for the poor and even now he still continues to help them by encouraging the devotion known as St Anthony's bread. This is a very old devotion too and it had its origin in Padua as the result of another miracle.

A little child whose parents lived near the Basilica, which was then being built fell into a vessel of water and drowned. The poor mother was heart broken but great as was her grief she had a greater confidence in the power of St Anthony. She begged him to help and give her back her babe promising that if her prayers were heard she would give the child's weight in grain to the poor. Towards midnight while the bereaved mother was still praying the child rose up as if from sleep. After this miracle the practice developed of promising alms to the poor in return for favours received through the intercession of the saint. Today this practice is widespread and in most of our churches boxes are provided to receive alms for the poor from those who have been assisted by this great friend of the poor.

Great impetus was given to this devotion by a simple incident that occurred towards the end of the last century. A pious French girl Louise Bouffier who owned a small linen store in Toulon, found difficulty, one morning, in opening the door of her shop. After repeated efforts she sent for a locksmith, whose assortment of keys proved useless. Deciding that the lock must be forced, the man departed to get tools for the purpose. While he was away, Louise prayed earnestly to St. Anthony, promising him bread for his poor if the door was opened without injury to the lock. When the locksmith returned she asked him to try his keys once more, telling him of her promise to the Saint. The man did as she asked, and with the first key he tried, opened the door without any difficulty.

This incident greatly strengthened Louise Bouffier's confidence in St. Anthony.  She increased her devotion to him, always promising bread to the poor.  Her friends followed her example with the result that, in a short time the rear of her store became a centre for St. Anthony's Bread in Toulon. People of all ranks and conditions came there to pray before the statue of St. Anthony which had been erected.

Alms of bread arrived in great quantities, until the task of distributing it became too difficult. Then it was decided to accept money offerings for the poor, who were thereby enabled to purchase not only food, but clothing and other necessities. The thank-offerings also took the form of alms for the education of poor boys for the Priesthood

Indulgenced Prayers
To thee we have recourse, most powerful worker of miracles, in whose breast burned a sublime fire of charity towards God and the poor. To thee, who wast deemed worthy to hold in thy arms the Infant Jesus Who chose to be born poor. To thee, full of confidence, we betake ourselves, that thou mayest pray to the good Jesus to have compassion on us in our great tribulations. Oh! obtain for us the favour which we humbly implore. (Here state the favour needed.) If thou dost obtain it for us, O glorious St. Anthony, we will offer thee bread for the poor whom thou didst love so greatly on earth.
Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory.
O wonderful St. Anthony, glorious on account of the fame of thy miracles, and through the condescension of Jesus in coming in the form of a little Child to repose in thy arms; obtain for me of His bounty the grace, which I ardently desire from the depths of my heart. Thou who wast so compassionate towards miserable sinners, regard not the unworthiness of those who pray to thee, but the glory of God, that it may be once again magnified by thee to the salvation of my soul, in connection with the particular request for which I now ask with persevering earnestness. May this small offering of alms, which I make to thee in aid of the poor be a pledge of my gratitude and with them may it be one day granted to me, through the grace of Jesus Christ and thy intercession, to possess the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
A very beautiful and picturesque custom that forms parts of the ceremonies which take place on the Feast of St. Anthony is the ceremony of the blessing of St. Anthony's lilies.

This custom was begun to commemorate a special manifestation of St. Anthony at Marcasso, in Corsica. During a revolution, the Franciscans were driven into exile. However, their chapel remained open and a public procession was made to it each year on June the 13th. For this occasion a temporary altar of St. Anthony was erected in the centre of the main aisle. Garlands of flowers were hung above the Saint's head; at his feet were placed roses and other flowers, and lilies of spotless white stood out against a green background of laurel and myrtle.

On one occasion, the young man who had been appointed sacristan, neglected to remove the statue of St. Anthony at the end of the ceremonies. Several months later he went with a few helpers to the deserted chapel to complete his work. To their surprise they found the lilies fresh and white, whereas the other flowers were withered and dead.

A similar thing happened in Austria in 1680. On the Saint's feast, a fresh-cut lily had been placed in one of the hands of his statue. For an entire year the flower remained as fresh and white as it was on the day it was put there. The next year the same stem bore two lilies, which filled the whole church with their fragrance. This fact was authenticated officially, and was looked upon as a heavenly testimony to the purity of the Saint.

Permission to bless lilies in honour of St. Anthony was given by Pope Leo XIII. Many miracles of healing have been obtained through St. Anthony's intercession after applying a blessed lily.

Prayer Used in Blessing Lilies.
O God, Who art the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, the Lover of spotless purity, the Giver of all grace and everlasting life, sanctify by Thy holy benediction these lilies, which in thanksgiving, and in honour of St. Anthony, Thy Confessor, we present for Thy blessing.

Pour down upon them, by the sacred sign of the holy Cross, Thy heavenly dew, Thou Who didst so kindly create them to gladden man by their beauty and fragrance; enrich them with such power, that to whatsoever disease they may be applied, or in whatsoever home they may be kept, or on whatsoever person they may be borne with devotion, through the intercession of Thy servant, Anthony, they may cure every sickness, repel the attacks of Satan, preserve holy chastity, and bring peace and grace to all who serve Thee. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

One of the practices of those who are devout to St. Anthony of Padua is to entrust their letters to his care. St. Anthony became the special patron of written messages and the protector who watches over the safe delivery of letters because of a remarkable miracle. A merchant had gone from Spain to Peru on business. Although his wife wrote to him several times she did not receive any answer, so she decided to get St. Anthony to help her. With childlike confidence she went to the Franciscan church in Oviedo and placed a letter in the hands of the statue of the Saint, asking him to deliver it to her husband.  Later she returned to the church, and, to her great joy, found, in place of her letter, a reply from her husband.  With it were several gold pieces.  The letter may still be seen at Oviedo.  It was dated:  Lima, July 23rd, 1729, and states that the wife's letter was delivered by a Franciscan Father. Usually, those who invoke St. Anthony's protection in this way write "S.A.G." on the back of their letters or seal their letter with St. Anthony Guide seals.

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