Who is St. Anthony?
" NEARLY EVERYWHERE St. Anthony is asked to intercede with God for the return of things lost or stolen. Those who feel very familiar with him may pray, "Tony, Tony, turn around. Something's lost and must be found."
The reason for invoking St. Anthony's help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.
A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony's psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. And after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and return to the Order which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.
In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., proclaims, "The sea obeys and fetters break/And lifeless limbs thou dost restore/While treasures lost are found again/When young or old thine aid implore."