Saint Anthony's Miracles. The miser's heart

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The miracle

According to the story, the funeral of a rich man was being celebrated with great pomp in a city in Tuscany. Anthony was present, and is said to have commented that the dead man did not deserve such honour since he had exploited and oppressed the poor. “His heart is in his money-box”, said the Saint, echoing our Lord’s words that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be too”.

So far, so good; but the story goes on to say that, following Anthony’s words, a surgeon was called in, who cut open the dead body and found no heart! A little later, when the family opened the dead man’s treasure chest, there was the heart! As a result, the dead man was not buried in the splendid mausoleum that he had prepared for himself, but in a cave by the river. In the center of the fresco you can see the surgeon opening the body of the miser, and on the left a relative of the rich man who has just found his heart in the money-box.

Meditation

Through this miracle Anthony is urging us to do two things. On the one hand he is inviting us to free ourselves from the idea of materialism, the unjust accumulation of money and belongings; on the other hand he is urging us to fight poverty. I know, it is not easy to fight poverty, however if we turn away from the idols of selfishness and materialism we do have a chance. Selfishness is the curse of the human race, because selfish people are incapable of loving others, but they are also incapable of loving themselves. Materialism is the organised emptiness of the spirit, because it is the logical result of the idea that above and beyond this world there is nothing else.