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It was as an orator, however, rather than as professor, that Anthony reaped his richest harvest. He possessed in an eminent degree all the good qualities that characterize an eloquent preacher: a loud and clear voice, a winning countenance, wonderful memory, and profound learning, to which were added from on high the spirit of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles. With the zeal of an apostle he undertook to reform the morality of his time by combating in an especial manner the vices of luxury, avarice, and tyranny. The fruit of his sermons was, therefore, as admirable as his eloquence itself.
At Padua also took place the famous miracle of the amputated foot, which Franciscan writers attribute to St. Anthony. A young man, Leonardo by name, in a fit of anger kicked his own mother. Repentant, he confessed his fault to St. Anthony who said to him: "The foot of him who kicks his mother deserves to be cut off." Leonardo ran home and cut off his foot. Learning of this, St. Anthony took the amputated member of the unfortunate youth and miraculously rejoined it. Through the exertions of St. Anthony, the Municipality of Padua, 15 March, 1231, passed a law in favour of debtors who could not pay their debts. A copy of this law is still preserved in the museum of Padua. From this, as well as the following occurrence, the civil and religious importance of the Saint's influence in the thirteenth century is easily understood. In 1230, while war raged in Lombardy, St. Anthony betook himself to Verona to solicit from the ferocious Ezzelino the liberty of the Guelph prisoners. An apocryphal legend relates that the tyrant humbled himself before the Saint and granted his request. This is not the case, but what does it matter, even if he failed in his attempt; he nevertheless jeopardized his own life for the sake of those oppressed by tyranny, and thereby showed his love and sympathy for the people. Invited to preach at the funeral of a usurer, he took for his text the words of the Gospel: "Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart." In the course of the sermon he said: "That rich man is dead and buried in hell; but go to his treasures and there you will find his heart." The relatives and friends of the deceased, led by curiosity, followed this injunction, and found the heart, still warm, among the coins. Thus the triumph of St. Anthony's missionary career manifests itself not only in his holiness and his numerous miracles, but also in the popularity and subject matter of his sermons, since he had to fight against the three most obstinate vices of luxury, avarice and tyranny.
Saint Anthony of Padua is the Patron Saint of Padua, of Portugal, and of San Antonio, Texas. Prayer cards manufactured in Italy identify him as the saint of "miracles," but to most Catholics, he is the Patron Saint associated with the return of lost articles and missing persons. He is petitioned for help in finding almost everything that is lost, from car keys and misplaced papers to a lost job, a lost lover, or s straying partner. People who are regarded as "lost souls" may also be placed in his care. These widespread invocations to Saint Anthony for finding lost things and restoring missing people relate to an incident in which the saint was invoked to find a missing book and the prayer was efficacious; ever since then Saint Anthony has been the Patron of Lost Things.
St. Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find [name the item] which has been lost. At least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss. To this favor, I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God. Amen.