Saint Anthony's Miracles. Tommy & St. Anthony’s Bread

The miracle

Tommy was a 20-month- old boy who lived with his parents near the Basilica. His mother had left him playing in the kitchen, where there was a large pot on the fire with boiling water in it. The little boy took a stool and started to peep into pot. He saw his own reflection and wanted to touch it, but in doing so he fell into the boiling water. Immediately afterward, the mother was back, and when she saw Tommy’s feet sticking up out of the pot, she run to pull him out, but the boy was already dead.

The poor mother’s screams roused the whole neighbourhood, and soon a crowd had gathered at the house, including some friars from the Basilica. Seeing the friars, the woman was reminded of the wonderful miracles done by St. Anthony, and began to pray loudly for his help, promising to donate her child’s weight in bread to the poor if he were restored to life. While the mother was still praying, Tommy arose as if from a deep sleep.


The miracle of the little boy who was brought back to life gave rise to the much beloved pious practice of giving bread to the poor as a petition or in gratitude for favours received through St. Anthony’s intercession. Today, bread isn’t as important in our diet as it used to be in ancient times, so now the friars of the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua encourage the faithful to participate in this beloved tradition by giving alms to the poor. To this end, since 1898 the friars have helped the poor through a charitable organisation: St. Anthony’s Charities, which promotes many solidarity projects in poor countries. In this way the great tradition of St. Anthony’s bread is continued in today’s troubled world. Like St. Francis, Anthony had a preferential option for the poor. He and his friars would tend to people in need by asking for food and clothing from the wealthy on their behalf.