Back in the late 60s or early 70s one of my siblings was going on a school trip. Most of my memories of the day are vague, who it was and where they were going has escaped me, but it was during the school holidays and they had to be at school for 2pm.
We woke that morning to mum in a huge flap, she could not find the keys to the suitcase, the one and only suitcase we owned in our house. My elder siblings, who were going off to work were all throwing suggestions as to where they might be but these were agitating mum rather than helping her.
We were all awake as she was dipping in and out of rooms, examining every draw, cupboard, shelf, windowsill, everywhere. She also told us we all needed to pray to St Anthony or the trip wasn’t going to happen.
As I came down stairs the door bell rang, I remember we all stopped and looked at each other, which was strange because at 9am in the morning, in our house, this was not unusual, but I remember the pause very clearly. My sister opened the front door and there was May who lived next door.
“Jose” she said “I keep meaning to give you this purse back that you lent me, I found it this morning, I saw the boys going off to work so I thought I’d give it back to you while I remember”. Mum took it gratefully but May could see she had a cob on so didn’t hang around. Mum held the purse in her hand, said “my God!” and opened it. The suitcase keys were in the purse. And yes this is a true story.
This week on Facebook one of my wife’s friends told how she lost her wedding ring on the beach. Wendy wrote under the status that she should say a prayer to St Anthony, other comments were made, such as “why?”, “I do that” and “don’t be silly”. As Wendy read this out, a debate opened up among the friends we were with as to the feasibility of St Anthony really being able to help you find things.
I explained how he had got this reputation after he prayed for the return of a missing psalter, which had been taken accidentally by a novice monk. The novice received a vision of St Anthony looking for the psalter and returned it. “So you can help me find my sunglasses?” I was asked, a little incredulously by Cathy, one of our lunch guests, I suggested we pray together but she was not comfortable with that so I said I’d pray for the return of her sunglasses, and, actually, while I was at it, I’d pray for mine too, I had not seen them this year.
Two days later my daughter wanted to borrow a beanie hat (don’t ask) I went and got one, and my sunglasses were there. Yesterday afternoon my wife returned from Fitsteps to say Cathy came up to her wide eyed “Did he pray?” she asked
“Yes, of course” she replied
“It’s blown my mind” said Cathy, she went on to explain how she had taken her daughter to a friend’s house, where she had not been for a year, on arrival, the friends mum asked Cathy
“Are these your sunglasses?”