Man has carried his cross, happily, for three decades

GLASSBORO — For the past 30 years, Larry Constanzio, a retired podiatric doctor, has carried the cross during the St. Anthony procession of St. Bridget Parish. This year it was held on June 12.

He continued the tradition after his farther-in-law — who carried the cross for many years — had died. However, at first when he was asked to continue the tradition, he said he wasn’t interested.

But it seemed St. Anthony had a different opinion.

One day, after the doctor had finished digging in his herb garden, he discovered he had lost an expensive diamond ring.

“I never wore it except on special occasions and to church,” he explained. “I had returned from church and went into the garden without taking off the ring.”

His wife told him to pray to St. Anthony for help and that’s what he did. Then a year later his wife came into his office holding the ring. One of the women who was working in the garden had found it. At that moment Dr. Constanzio decided to march in the procession.

The cross used in the procession came from his bedroom, the doctor noted. His mother had taken it down from the wall and presented it to the St. Anthony Club. The crucifix was put into a larger cross and that has been used in the procession for some 50 years.

A Franciscan friar known for his gifted preaching, St. Anthony of Padua died in Italy in 1231. He was canonized less than a year after his death and named a doctor of the church. His feast is June 13.

Today, of course, people seek the intercession of St. Anthony to assist in finding lost objects, although there seems to be little linkage of that practice to the details of his life. A legend which has grown around St. Anthony may be the source of the devotion. A novice ran away and took with him a psalter which was being used by St. Anthony. He prayed for its return. When the novice received a compelling apparition, he felt he had to return it.

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