On the Statue:
Found on Ebay, I was immediately struck by the level of detail in this statue – from the cord and rosary, to the lilies, to the detail in Anthony and Jesus’ face. The paint job, however, left a lot to be desired.
Now carefully repainted, I darkened the traditional brown of the Franciscan habit for a greater contrast with Jesus’ clothes and bods. Adding subtler details to the rosary, cord, hair and face, Jesus now sleeps peacefully in Anthony’s arms as Anthony gazes down at him.
And through many layers and soft transitions, the folds of Anthony’s habit now follow a more natural light rather than simply being darker at the waist.
Varnished three times with a matte varnish, this statue is easy to clean with soap and water and a soft cloth, without fear of ruining the paint and will withstand general handling and bumps.
This statue is plaster which means if you bump it on a harder surface it will dent or chip, so be careful how you handle it. If you drop it it will break into several large pieces, making it an easier repair than porcelain. Should this happen, gather everything you can and send me an email and I’ll quote you the repair cost or, if it’s a simple break, walk you through an at home repair.
On St. Anthony:
Most commonly called upon to find lost keys and wallets, St. Anthony is the patron of everything lost – items, lives, people, The tradition goes back to a incident in his own life when his book of psalms (not only of sentimental value but also expensive to replace given it was the 1200s) was stolen by one of his students who had decided to leave the order. St. Anthony prayed that the thief would return the book, and the student not only returned to give the book back, but decided to rejoin the order and continue his vocation.
Born in Portugal, Anthony joined the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross at the age of 15. After his ordination to the priesthood, some friars of the newly created Franciscan order (only 11 years after its founding) settled in a hermitage nearby. Inspired by their simple, evangelical lifestyle and news of 5 other friars being martyred in Morocco, Anthony obtained permission to leaven the Canons Regular and join the Franciscans.
Highly educated in Scripture, Anthony soon became well known as a preacher. Not long after joining the order, St. Francis became aware of both his knowledge of theological studies, but also his love of real poverty and service and so put Anthony in charge of the formation of all the friars of the order.
St. Anthony is almost always depicted holding the child Jesus. Legend holds that it was because of an apparition he had during his life, though images of him holding the Child did not appear for centuries after his death. Originally he held lilies, for purity, and a Bible, for his preaching. As time went on, artists began depicting the Child sitting on the Bible, showing the mystical reality of the Gospels – that God became Man and dwelt among us. Shown in particular as a child, it harkens back to Paul in his letter to the Philippians; “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (2:5–8).