Coming from Mass this morning, the lady leaving in front of me, stopped. She touched the feet of the statue of St. Anthony and I could tell she was praying.
Because I'm me, I immediately thought of the Boston tradition of touching the toe of John Harvard. Tourists often have their picture taken with the statue. It's a tradition that if you rub the toe of the statue, you'll have good luck.
|St. Anthony of Padua|
We Catholics call "luck", "blessings." So I imagine devotees of St. Anthony touch his feet to ask for a blessing.
The difference between the two is that the people who rub John Harvard's foot are carrying on a time honored tradition that doesn't really mean anything. People who touch the toe of a saint are praying. They are combining a mental prayer with a tactile touch. The hitting upon two senses help to deepen the prayer. It's a spiritual aid. Looking at a picture will deepen your thoughts. Holding rosary beads not only helps to count, but also to focus. Hence, the object (the statue) of the toe touch not only makes the difference, but the intention of the touch.
Bostonians also know another difference. It is also a time honored tradition, for students to urinate on John Harvard's toe, at night. Tourists touch and rub the toe during the day, and students pee on it, during the night.
These were my thoughts, leaving Mass, on a Sunday morning.
St. Anthony pray for me.