S.A.G. (St. Anthony Guide) -The miracle letter deliveries of St Anthony of Padua
It has become a popular practice for people to write “S.A.G.” on their envelopes prior to posting them in the mail. The letters stand for “St Anthony Guide” because of the miraculous story below.
During his lifetime, God was pleased to work countless miracles in the life of the Franciscan Priest St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) and his reputation for sanctity was universally acclaimed. So in a sense it is not surprising then that immediately after the death of St. Anthony the miracles worked at his tomb were so prodigious that the Bishop of Padua petitioned the Vatican for his canonization. A judicial inquiry was instituted without delay, and by an exception regarded as unparalleled in history, on May 30, 1232 Pope Gregory IX, solemnly pronounced the decree of canonization, only eleven months after Anthony’s death. His mother and two sisters who survived him had the extraordinary and extremely rare privilege of witnessing the canonization ceremony and joining in the festivities that followed the announcement. Those familiar with the canonisation process know that such a speedy canonization is unheard of in the Catholic Church, as the normal process requires much study into the life of the proposed Saint, and as such they are normally canonised decades and quite often centuries after their deaths. Such was the remarkable holiness of St Anthony.
The origin of the initials “S.A.G.” and why they are often marked on envelopes is this:
A Spanish merchant named Antonio Dante left Spain for South America in 1729 to establish a business in Lima, Peru. His wife, who remained in Spain, wrote a number of letters to him without receiving a reply. After many months full of worry and with the utmost faith and simplicity, she brought a letter with her to the Church of St. Francis at Oviedo. [St Francis and St Anthony were close friends and companions during their lifetime.]
In the church there was a large statue of St. Anthony, and she placed a letter to her husband into his outstretched hand and prayed the following prayer with confidence, asking for his heavenly intercession:
“St. Anthony, I pray to thee; let this letter reach him and obtain for me a speedy reply.”
The next day she returned to the church and saw that her letter was still there. Weeping in frustration that her letter had not been delivered, she attracted the attention of the Brother sacristan who listened to her story. Afterward, he told her that he had tried to remove the letter but could not, and he asked the lady if she would try to remove it. She tried, and she did so with ease.
The letter she received from the hand of the statue of St Anthony was not the one that she placed there the day before; it was a letter from her husband. As she removed the letter from his hand, three hundred golden coins fell from the sleeve of the statue.
Astonished, a number of the friars were called and ran to the scene and waited while the miraculous letter was opened. The letter was dated July 23, 1729 and read:
“My dearest wife. For some time I have been expecting a letter from you, and I have been greatly troubled and concerned at not hearing from you. But at last your letter has come, and given me joy. It was a Father of the Order of St. Francis who brought it to me. You complain that I have left your letters unanswered. I assure you that when I did not receive any from you I believed you must be dead, and so you may imagine my happiness at the arrival of your letter. I answer you now by the same religious Father, and send you three hundred golden crowns [coins], which should suffice for your support until my approaching return.
In the hope of soon being with you, I pray God for you, and I commend myself to my dear patron St. Anthony, and ardently desire that you may continue to send me tidings of yourself.
Your most affectionate,
The original letter, written in Spanish, is affectionately kept and preserved at the Franciscan Monastery in Oviedo. In memory of this event, the practice of writing S.A.G. (St. Anthony Guide) on letters has became popular, thereby placing the letters under the protection of St Anthony whom they trust will get the letter safely to its proper destination.