St. Anthony of Lisbon is one of the seven patron saints of Portugal where he was born, raised, educated and served as a priest and Augustinian monk under his baptismal name, Fernando Martins de Bulhoes. When he became a Franciscan friar, he took the name Anthony. He is the beloved patron saint of many cities and towns in Portugal, Spain and South America. He is remembered with feasts and festivals on his feast day, June 13, especially in Lisbon where St. Anthony’s Feast Day is a municipal holiday celebrated particularly with weddings.

St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of Padua and many other towns in Italy where he served as gardener, preacher, confessor, teacher, writer, contemplative, and humble miracle worker. He is also the beloved patron saint of many towns and parishes in the United States, France, and other countries around the world. He is remembered especially in Italy and the United States with festivals including large amounts of traditional food, parades, and fireworks.

Do the Portuguese honor the time St. Anthony spent in Italy? Sim. Do the Italians honor the time St. Anthony spent in Portugal? Si. Do the Franciscan friars appreciate St. Anthony’s study of theology and scripture as an Augustinian monk? Yes. Do the Augustinian monks appreciate St. Anthony’s abilities as a talented Franciscan preacher? Of course. These experiences and connections made him who he ultimately came to be – a beloved saint, world wide.

Continuing from: St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, Part 1, His Life

Moments after Anthony died on June 13, 1231, it’s said that the children of Padua ran up and down the streets shouting, “The Holy Father is dead; Saint Anthony is dead!”

People immediately petitioned the pope with words of his many miracles and their great love for Anthony. Only 11 months later, he was canonized on May 30, 1232, by Pope Gregory IX who said that Anthony was the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.”

The baptismal font in Lisbon’s 12-century cathedral became cherished and remains on display today, 800 years later, as the font where St. Anthony was baptized.

In 1263, during construction of La Basilica de San Antonio de Padua, a young child drowned in the nearby river. His mother prayed to St. Anthony for intercession in reviving her son, and if he did so, she promised to give to the poor the child’s weight in grain. The child lived. And so began the tradition of St. Anthony’s Bread – alms given to the poor in thanksgiving for answered prayers.

In 1888, a woman named Louise Bouffier managed a bakery in Toulon, France. One morning, the lock on the door of the bakery jammed and the key wouldn’t work. The locksmith couldn’t make it work either. He told her he’d have to dismantle the door and went to get his tools. While he was away, Louise prayed to St. Anthony for intercession in fixing the lock. If he did so, she promised to give some of the bakery’s bread to the poor. When the locksmith returned, the key fit smoothly into the lock and the door opened. Louise kept her word and her friends also gave to the poor in return for answered prayers. In 1890, they founded a charity, St. Anthony’s Bread.

In 1946, Pope Pius XIII officially declared St. Anthony a Doctor (teacher) of the Universal (Roman Catholic) Church.

Over-the-top celebrations of St. Anthony’s feast day began soon after his death and continue to this day including the blessing and distribution of St. Anthony’s bread. The blessed bread is freely handed out to the poor, parishioners, family, and friends.

In Lisbon, June 13 is a municipal holiday celebrated with parades, feasts, festivals, and weddings. In fact, the holiday is also known as the festival of the brides as so many weddings take place on this day. The city even offers to pay for the weddings of those who can’t afford them.

There are stories about people getting angry at St. Anthony for not getting their prayers answered for them. It’s rather common for women to bury a statue of St. Anthony with the head in the ground and bargain with him, in prayer, that as soon as he finds her a husband, she will turn his statue upright.

In one typical story, a woman in Mexico prayed to St. Anthony for intercession in finding her a husband for a long time with no results. One day in a fit of frustration, she threw her St. Anthony statue out the window, where it hit a passerby and knocked him out cold. He was carried into the nearest house, which happened to be her parents’ home, and he awoke to find this woman fanning him and placing a cool cloth on his forehead. They fell in love and were married soon after.

Back in Portugal, many new relationships begin on June 13 as women are wooed with pots of sweet basil with love notes, poems, scripture, or prayers tucked inside. People also decorate their porches with pots of basil and pass them out to friends and family. Plenty of delicious food is always part of St. Anthony’s feast day. Grilled sardines are the favored street fare in Lisbon.

In Italy, and in many Italian American parishes in the United States, St. Anthony’s feast day is celebrated with copious amounts of delicious traditional foods, street festivals, parades, and fireworks. Here is the mission statement of one organization’s festival:

“The San Antonio Di Padova Da Montefalcione, Inc. is a non-profit, religious and cultural organization founded in 1919 in Boston by Italian immigrants. The members of this organization are dedicated to continuing the tradition of honoring our patron, Saint Anthony of Padua, by organizing and producing the annual St. Anthony Feast in the North End of Boston. In addition to encouraging devotion to Saint Anthony Of Padua: Its mission includes preserving Italian-American traditions, culture, history, and heritage; and strengthening its community by supporting both financially and morally the neighborhood’s other non-profit institutions that aim to improve the lives of its citizens.”

Matt Conti

To explain why I feel such a connection to St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, I have to start on vacation:

Last month, my family traveled from our coastal town of Wilmington to the mountains of North Carolina. We dropped our son and daughter off at Youth Week at Kanuga Conferences in Hendersonville. My husband and I went on to Asheville where we enjoyed the downtown culture, atmosphere and, of course, the food!

We took two hiking day trips, one to Grandfather Mountain,

and one to Chimney Rock.

Both trips were great fun and we plan to go hiking together more often.

On our first day trip, my husband drove from Asheville to Grandfather Mountain so I was able to enjoy the scenery. During a lull in our conversation, my mind wandered, and I found myself traveling along mountain roads of western New York State – the hay bales, red barns, cow pastures, winding roads, hills and ever-rising mountains, even the smell and feel of the air rushing through the open windows made the illusion complete, I was home in New York.

When I became aware again that I was actually traveling in North Carolina and not New York, I finally understood why I’m so happy in the mountains.

I lived in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains of New York, which is linked to the Appalachian Mountains via the Appalachian Trail. The very mountain ranges form a strong connection that distance and invisible state lines cannot break or dull.

As a matter of fact, my Uncle Freddie’s backyard abutted the Appalachian Trail. He spoke with many a hiker over the years and helped them out if they needed a hot meal or a place to sleep. Actually, he was my great uncle and with his chest puffed out, thumbs behind his suspenders, and cheeky grin, he insisted we call him Great Uncle Freddie with emphasis on the Great.

In 2005 with his Great, Great niece

Back at the hotel, I found a copy of Smoky Mountain Living placed in our room by the housekeeping staff. In it was an article called “Women in the Appalachian Home” by Sarah Smith Nester. My epiphany continued as I read: “These woman were a hearty bunch and joyful, but they didn’t do a lot for themselves. They focused on chores and things that needed to be done.”

I usually work long days; love to laugh, don’t allow myself much idle time. I focus a great deal on chores, writing goals, and volunteer responsibilities.

“Food was a way to cultivate friendships inside and outside of their homes. Recipes were created and passed from friend to friend.”

I write a blog called Saints and Recipes. Check.

“Mountain Women tended their own houses and gardens.”

Yup! I clean my own house and gardening is one of my favorite hobbies.

“The daily grind of life could have so easily worn mountain women down, but they were able to turn their tasks into opportunities for self-expression. To make and cherish their “pretties” whether quilts, flowers, or songs.”

I share my writing, flowers, and produce from my garden as well as the afghans Great Aunt Ida, sister of Freddie, taught me how to crochet.

“Women were very instrumental in religion; they were the spiritual leaders of the home. This was most likely to be role models for the children.”

My children and I are active members of our church youth programs.

“People tended to stay home – women especially since a primary duty was to tend to the children.”

I love a day when I have no place I need to be except home. While my teenagers no longer need my tending, they continue to need guidance, a stocked fridge, clean clothes and life skills lessons, a.k.a. Mom School.

Okay, so I don’t muck out the pig pen, weave my own wool cloth, or have any midwifery skills. But, I still marvel at all the traits I share with mountain woman of days past, and I realize that I’ve been a mountain gal all along.

Yet, I have no intention of moving to the mountains. I love living in Wilmington and am not usually bothered by the humidity or the threat of the occasional hurricane. We’ve got the ocean with it’s breeze, lots of sunny days, and mild winters.

While I think it would be cool to someday rent a mountain cabin for summertime stays with frequent hikes along the Appalachian Trail, I’m staying right here in Wilmington because I love it.

So what’s my connection to St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon?

First of all, he’s a beloved son and saint of both Italy and Portugal. He became a Franciscan friar after 11 years of theological study as an Augustinian monk. And he was a nobleman’s son who served the poor.

I need nothing more to understand that I can be a mountain woman at home by the coast, a Northerner living in the South, and a practicing Episcopalian who honors her Roman Catholic heritage.

But there is more:  My father’s parents, Antoinetta and Domenic, immigrated separately to the United States from the same small mountain village. They met up again in Mamaroneck, New York, fell in love, and married. The village is called Collepietro and is located near L’Aquila in the mountain region of Abruzzi, Italy.

Although known to me as Grandma, her friends called her Nettie.

With my brothers and me

Given another look, one notices that Antoinetta is a feminine form of the Latin Antonio or English Anthony.

In 2008, my father traveled with my family on a tour of Italy and a side trip to Collepietro, “where our people come from.”

The day we arrived was June 13. The feast day of the village’s patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua.

Soon after our return from Asheville, I called my father and explained my mountain connection and how it went all the way to Italy and my Italian roots and heritage. Then I said, “And Grandpa (my mother’s father) explains my connection to the sea.”

My father said, “Actually, Portugal is mountainous, too. The mountains just sort of drop off into the ocean.”

My first thought, after once again vowing to read my pile of National Geographic magazines as my only chance in fighting off geographic illiteracy, was that St. Anthony was originally from Portuga, l and thus began my St. Anthony research.

But the connections don’t end there. My grandfather’s name is, wait for it . . . .

Antonio, one in a long line of Portuguese sons named after their beloved saint.

And my younger brother also carries the name of his Portuguese grandfather and his Italian grandmother both of whom were ultimately named after St. Anthony.

Grandpa was a rather gruff fellow who spoke coarse broken English. I have an early memory of when I was five years old. We were playing outside while my mother sat with Grandpa on our front steps. My older brother, Larry, got a splinter and my mother asked Grandpa to watch me and two-year-old Tony while she took care of Larry.

After they went inside, Tony toddled off down the driveway. Grandpa said, “Tony, see if you come here.”

Tony kept going.

Grandpa said, “TONY, SEE IF YOU COME HERE!”

Tony kept going.

Finally, terrified that Tony would get run over (on our little neighborhood road) and realizing that Grandpa was not getting up; I ran down and grabbed Tony just as he reached the mailbox.

My mother thought the whole thing was hysterical. “Papa,” she said through her laughter, “The baby doesn’t understand ‘see if you come here.’ You have to say, “Tony, no, no.”

Grandpa laughed too, in his way. The tiniest of smiles. And that was enough.

Antonio and my grandmother, Edna Mina

Grandpa had two huge vegetable gardens. He would bring us boxloads of tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers all summer long. My mother enjoyed giving away whatever we couldn’t eat to neighbors and friends.

He lived right down the road from Great Uncle Freddie. I never met my grandmother, Edna, as she died before I was born. She was the sister of Great Uncle Freddie and Great Aunt Ida. Unlike my three first generation grandparents, Edna’s family were mountain folk with mixed heritage going back many generations and even included a touch of Native American. In other words, they were Appalachian.

My father’s father, Domenic, also died before I was born. But my Grandma Nettie and my Grandpa Tony got along very well. Grandma spoke beautiful English as she immigrated at the age of 13 and Grandpa spoke his “famous” broken English as he immigrated as an adult. But whenever they were together at our house, Grandma spoke Italian and Grandpa spoke Portuguese, and they understood each other.

When I was in 5th grade, my grandfather died in a car accident.

I don’t remember his birthday, but I will always remember the day he died, and I honor his memory each year on November 12.

I salute him every time I eat a sardine sandwich as they are a “Product of Portugal.” And whenever I try to open a jar or bottle and need a bit more strength than I have, I say my grandfather’s name out loud, “Tony Mina!” In this way, I’m asking for his help as a saint in heaven, but I’m also summoning that extra bit of strength so that I don’t disappoint him.

Inevitably, the jar opens. From now on, I’ll say, “Thanks Grandpa and St. Anthony.” Because when I call on Tony, my grandfather, I’m also calling on St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon.

In a nod toward my Portuguese, Italian, and Appalachian heritage, I’m happy to share these two recipes: St. Anthony’s Bread which honors St. Anthony of Padua and Garden Basil Pesto which honors St. Anthony of Lisbon — one and very much the same beloved Saint.


Remember that St. Anthony’s Bread defines alms given to the poor in payment or thanksgiving for prayers answered through intercession by St. Anthony. A modern-day equivalent would be to “pay it forward.”

St. Anthony’s Bread is also real bread that is baked into small loaves or rolls on St. Anthony’s feast day. Sometimes these loaves are blessed by a parish priest and given away.

One can use regular bread dough for these small loaves, or this recipe which has more yummy stuff in it.

2 packages dry active yeast (NOT Quick or Rapid Rise)

1 cup water heated to 110 or 115 degrees F (check with candy thermometer)

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 cups bread flour lightly packed and leveled with knife

¼ cup bread flour for sprinkling on surface and bread before and during kneading

½ tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1 teaspoon dried garlic powder

½ cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of rolls

Heat water in pot on stove until temperature reaches 110 or 115 degrees F. Measure out 1 cup. Add sugar. Stir. Add yeast. Stir and wait five minutes to proof the yeast.

Meanwhile, place flour, salt, Italian seasoning, parsley flakes, and garlic powder in bowl and stir.

If after 5 minutes, a bubbling foam layer has developed on the yeast mixture, rejoice for your yeast is alive! Pour mixture into a large bowl.

In a saucepan, heat and stir milk and butter until butter is almost melted. Add and stir into the large bowl.

Gradually mix flour into the liquid in the large bowl until it’s all absorbed, either with an electric mixer, a spoon, or your clean hands.

If you used your hands, wash them again. Sprinkle flour onto a clean flat surface as well as on the sticky ball of dough. Knead (squish, mash, push, pull) it for a full 5 minutes. Set a timer, if necessary. If your hands get too sticky “wash” them in more flour. Mix in ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Knead for another 5 full minutes.

Place dough in a large glass or oven-safe bowl coated with olive oil. Roll dough ball around until it’s also coated with olive oil.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and proof (let rise) in a warm place (about 85 degrees F) until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes. Some ovens have a “proof” setting or you can set it to “warm,” then turn it off.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down to remove the air. Divide dough into about 16 portions shaping each into a round roll. Place rolls on parchment paper on a regular cookie sheet (or two). Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle on ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.

Proof again, uncovered in a warm place about 30 minutes.

If proofing in oven, remove tray. Place pizza stone in oven for even cooking. Place a pan of water on bottom rack to provide moisture during baking for a crispy crust. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place cookie sheet on pizza stone and bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Serve warm with butter.

Or cool and wrap individually for blessing and sharing.

Or use in assembling these St. Anthony sandwiches:

Slice roll horizontally. Add mayonnaise, a layer of sardines, slice of fresh garden tomato and several basil leaves.

Or slice roll horizontally. Spread with pesto (recipe below) add slice of Provolone and a slice of fresh garden tomato.


2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, washed and dried thoroughly

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Black pepper to taste

Harvest about 2 cups worth of leaves from your own basil plants, or purchase fresh from farmer’s market or grocery store. Wash and dry leaves.

Purchase toasted pine nuts, or spread raw nuts on a small tray and toast in toaster oven. Option:  Swap out pine nuts for walnuts in honor of St. Anthony’s walnut tree hut.

Combine the basil, nuts, Parmesan, garlic, salt, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor and puree.

Drizzle in the ¼ cup olive oil while the motor is running. Add black pepper.

Turn off when everything’s mixed into a smooth puree.

Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or 4 months in freezer. It’s fun to harvest a lot of basil and make batches to give away.

Or serve immediately over pasta. Add more Parmesan cheese as desired. Perhaps also add grilled fresh sardines, or warmed up canned sardines.

Or spread over sliced Italian bread, add a slice of cheese such as provolone and broil in oven until cheese melts. It makes a delicious appetizer.

(Originally posted on 7/19/2012 to Saints and Recipes on Blogger.)


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