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LAST December I was in Miami, one of the world’s most popular vacation spots. I was not there for a holiday, but for a 10-day tour of the city and surrounding areas with two relics of our Saint. Accompanied by my assistant Tom, we were graced with wonderful weather and, because most days we were in one parish in the morning and in another parish in the afternoon, we had time to appreciate the beauty of the place, at least from our car window.

One late afternoon, after the evening Mass, a woman came up to me accompanied by a little boy of about 3 or 4 years of age. She told me she had come to thank St Anthony for a great miracle he had performed for her.

Lucy (not her real name) had been married for about 10 years, and even if she and her husband Claude had never had a child, they still led a happy and peaceful life together until one tragic October 17th.

In the previous weeks they had seen the doctor because Claude had complained of strong pains in his stomach. He even experienced problems swallowing, and often had nausea. The doctor ordered a barrage of tests, and on that fateful October 17th they were due to meet with him for the results and the therapy.

Visibly uptight, the doctor spelled out the terrible verdict: Claude had an incurable stomach cancer. Of course surgery was still possible, but the cancer had spread, so it was questionable whether an operation was even worth considering.

Anyway, hanging on to dear life, Claude decided to go through with the operation which was performed only a few days later. As predicted, Claude survived the operation, only to succumb to the disease within a year of the terrible diagnosis.

I listened to Lucy’s story with sad and careful attention, and eventually I asked myself, “But, where is St Anthony’s miracle in all this?”

As if sensing my unexpressed question, Lucy looked at me with sweetness and added, “You see Father, after the shock of the first days following that terrible verdict, after all the tears and the heartache, we started to pray fervently to our dear St Anthony, to whom we were both very devoted. It was then that a strange thing started to happen, and we gradually began to feel an increasing sense of inner peace, a peace that ‘surpasses understanding’ as the Gospel says. We realized that St Anthony was looking after us, and that he was giving us the strength to face that terrible ordeal. Claude and I felt his spiritual presence constantly. Even though it was late fall, it was as if the most beautiful spring flowers were blossoming all around us, and Claude and I never loved each other more than in that period. I only had him before my eyes; I only lived for him, and he only lived for me.”

Lucy told me that Claude died within a year of that tragic October 17th, but that he died peacefully with a gentle smile on his lips. At the moment of his passing he told her that his dear friend St Anthony was holding out his hand to accompany him to the Lord, and was assuring him that Lucy would not be left alone.

In fact at Claude’s death, Lucy was expecting, and a few months later she gave birth to a child she named Claude Anthony, the same little boy Lucy was now presenting to me with a great smile, concluding, “This is St Antony’s miracle!”

A miracle is not necessarily a prodigious event, an extraordinary phenomenon which we can all witness and experience through our senses. A miracle is often our everyday faith which sustains us in our daily woes and troubles. A miracle is often the strength to go on even when we are tempted to give up in the face of so many insurmountable problems. A miracle is when someone from above conveys this strength to us.

St Anthony collects all our prayers on his shoulders because he is our dearest friend and because he knows to whom to take them. He knows there is someone who really loves us and who follows us along our life path: our heavenly Father whose love has no limits, whose love never changes. Happy feast of St Anthony from all of us at the Messenger of Saint Anthony!

Updated on June 01 2019