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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Approach the Infant Jesus with St. Anthony

St. Anthony of Padua, together with St. Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the saint most frequently shown in sculptures or images holding the Child Jesus. Why is this the case? We must understand that St. Anthony had a mystical experience during his life. This was observed by a benefactor of the Franciscan order who provided St. Anthony with a place to remain for the night. One version of the incident is told in The Life of St. Anthony (1895).

While traveling through Limoges a pious benefactor gave [St. Anthony] lodging, and … assigned him a room separated from the others. It was night when the owner, either by chance or on purpose, passed near the room of the saint, and he observed that rays of unusual light came through the cracks of the door. He was curious to know the reason of that light and approached the door very slowly.
He saw Anthony kneeling, as if in ecstasy, and, full of wonder, admiring and caressing a loving child of rare beauty, who was tenderly embracing the saint. Then the man knew, from the affectionate conversation, and from the superhuman beauty, that it was Jesus Christ who, under the appearance of a loving child, was pleased to visit His faithful servant and fill him with His ineffable consolation.

The mystical vision emphasizes St. Anthony's childlike simplicity and the purity of his faith. He is well-known for his insightful sermons as well as his love and concern for the disadvantaged. His virtue was so widely recognized in the Church that he was canonized less than a year after his death.

The incident also brings to mind Jesus' words to his disciples,

"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

St. Anthony of Padua typified that kind of faith, and his vision was a special favor confirming his intimate oneness with God.

Prayer to St. Anthony

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (mention your request).

O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.


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