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St. Anthony of Padua lost a precious book that he feared would never be found again.
Many Catholics are familiar with invoking St. Anthony of Padua to find an item that was lost. The reason why St. Anthony is invoked during someone’s time of need is because of a precious book he lost during his life.
While staying at a Franciscan monastery at Montpellier, St. Anthony was teaching and preaching to his fellow Franciscans. St. Anthony kept with him a book of Psalms that he copied by hand, which had his notes and commentary that he used while teaching theology to his students.
This was during the 13th century when books were hard to come by and not easily produced. It would have been very difficult or even impossible for St. Anthony to replace the book if it were ever lost.
One of his pupils decided to leave the Franciscan community and when he left, St. Anthony couldn’t find his book of Psalms! The young novice took the precious book with him, and St. Anthony became deeply distressed, not knowing what he would do without the book. He had no idea where this young man went and it was nearly impossible to track him down.
Trusting in God, St. Anthony prayed that the novice would have a change of heart and return the book. Shortly after, the young man turned around and gave the book back to St. Anthony, asking for his forgiveness. He also returned to the Franciscans and St. Anthony forgave the novice, exhorting him to never do something like that again.
That same book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan monastery in Bologna, Italy.
After the death of St. Anthony, this story became a “legend” and spread like wild-fire. He quickly became known as a powerful intercessor for lost things and his reputation has only grown over the years.