St. Anthony’s Birthday

This weekend my neighborhood (the North End in Boston) celebrated the Feast of San Antonio and Santa Lucia. The streets swelled with people, visiting makeshift booths selling arancini (rice balls with cheese and spinach), calamari, Italian ice, and other delicious snacks. There was an arepa booth that particularly intrigued me. Throughout Saturday and Sunday, members of St. Anthony’s society carried the statue of St. Anthony around the neighborhood and festival-goers pinned money onto the streamers tied around the statue. As I lazed in the morning and early afternoon, marching bands filled my apartment with celebratory music from the street below, while viewers shouted “Viva Antonio, Viva!”


San Antonio is one of the most famous saints in the Catholic tradition, originally from Portugal but attributed to a region in Italy called Padova, where he died. Anthony is said to have known scripture fiercely well, and to have been an eloquent, serious preacher. Today he is most famous for being the patron saint of lost items, or lost people.

As I meandered through the tiny streets of Little Italy, St. Anthony calls to me. My senses feel alarmed as smells and colors change rapidly, from garbage to fried oreos, from the red, gold and green banners hung from old street lamps to deep green bottles of olive oil. A man on a motorcycle yells something at me that I choose to ignore, and I cause a slight grumble as I bustle past a middle-aged lady strolling on the sidewalk with her husband and children. Am I lost?

It’s been two weeks since I moved to Boston, and I have learned quite a bit- I can take the train to work without getting lost. I know where to buy groceries, dish soap, and even specialty salami, if I want. My apartment has internet and electricity, and I’ve even cooked enough food to carry me through the week. Eggplant lasagna.

Yet, I am lost…but not actively looking to be found. I am shocked, torn away from the familiar, and learning to do everything, every part of my day, in a way that becomes routine. As my body becomes exhausted very quickly, I begin to focus on my breath. We all need a reminder that every action impacts our world, for us and those around us. Not all who wander, are lost…perhaps some who are lost need to wander.

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