Saints Who Find You Parking Spaces

'Mother Cabrini, please find a spot for my little machiney,' and other unusual Catholic prayers to saints.

Reprinted from with permission.

Complete this sentence:

"St. Anthony, St. Anthony..."

Don't know it?

Then you're not a real Catholic. At least not yet.

The one thing that connects the astoundingly diverse communion of saints with one another—besides their love of God and devotion to Jesus—is the fact that most have weird rhyming prayers in their honor. Certainly the most popular is the one to St. Anthony, the 13th-century Portuguese Franciscan saint best known not for his real-life devotion to the poor, but for helping you find your keys, your wallet and your Blackberry.

Here is the prayer in full: "St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost but cannot be found."

After Jesus and Mary, St. Anthony is the busiest person in heaven. In the early 1960s, for example, he spent the bulk of his time looking for my homework, my Cub Scout hat and my collection of several hundred orange plastic street-hockey balls.

Patrons and Our Companions

Catholic tradition holds that the saints are both our patrons and our companions. They both intercede on our behalf and serve as our models for discipleship. And it's always seemed sensible to me that they would be happy to help us from their posts in heaven. St. Therese of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun, famously said that she would spend her time in heaven doing good on earth.


To doubters I explain it like this: You pray for your friends when they are in need, right? Why wouldn't the saints, who most likely have more time on their hands, and are presumably more generous than we are, want to do the same?

Now, I'm not entirely sure how the saints handle requests for all the little things we ask of them, like finding street-hockey balls. (The answer to that question falls under my general theological category of "I have no idea.") All I know is that I always found that Cub Scout hat.

You might know whom to ask for your missing iPod, but did you know that Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first U.S. citizen to be canonized, and who ministered to poor Italian immigrants in New York City in the early 20th century, is the official patron saint of finding parking spaces? Well, official in my book anyway.

Little Flower Power

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