Miraculous mail deliveries in the lives of the Saints
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 retieved 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.
The Angelic Letter Deliveries in the Life of St. Gemma Galgani
Another more recent case of miraculous mail deliveries occured in the extraordinary life of the 20th century stigmatic and mystic Saint Gemma Galgani (1878-1903).
In the "Life of St Gemma Galgani" written by her spiritual director, Venerable Father Germanus Ruoppolo, a few years after her death we read how the extraordinary mystic was on such familiar terms with her Guardian Angel that she sometimes entrusted her letters to him for safe delivery:
"One day, with the most charming simplicity, she prayed to her spiritual director's angel to take the letter she had written to him. Being familiar with the angel, she had no doubt as to the result. Already living dependent on the charity of the Giannini family [whom she was living with], she did not like to make additional requests in asking for stamps. She did not always proceed in this extraordinary manner, thus her recourse to the angel was not continual, yet not a single one of all the letters that she thus committed to him was lost."
In light of these extraordinary Angelic deliveries, her director, Ven Father Germanus C.P., wanted to conduct a "test" and so he instructed Gemma to give the letters she wanted to send him by the Angel to Cecilia Giannini, who was told to lock them in a place unknown to Gemma. Gemma lived in Lucca, Italy while her spiritual director lived several hundred miles away in Rome.
And so on June 11, 1901 Gemma wrote a letter to her spiritual director seeking guidance on some spiritual matters, as she often did. She then gave a letter to Cecilia, (as previously requested by her spiritual director), who in turn gave it to Father Lorenzo Agrimonti, who was a priest living at that time with the Giannini family. Father Lorenzo immediately locked it in a chest in his own room and put the key in his pocket.
During the afternoon of the next day, Gemma saw in a vision the Angel passing by with her letter on his way to Rome to deliver it to Ven. Father Germanus, and so Cecilia immediately notified Father Lorenzo. They found that the letter had, in fact, disappeared from its secret location, and to their greater amazement they later discovered that the letter was received, as usual, by her spiritual director, unstamped of course.
To prove the matter yet another time, the same experiment was undertaken--a letter of Gemma's to her director was once again handed over to Father Lorenzo. He secretly hid the envelope between two pictures, one of St. Gabriel Possenti and the other of St. Paul of the Cross. This took place on May 22, 1901. The next day Gemma announced that her Angel had taken away the letter and the delivery of which was once again confirmed by her spiritual director, to the utter amazement of everyone involved. It is no wonder then that Ven. Father Germanus in his book on the life of St Gemma calls them "angelic letters".
And about Gemma and her guardian Angel, her spiritual director Ven. Father Gemanus writes- "Gemma, seeing the great charity her angel lavished upon her, loved her angel immensely, and his name was always on her tongue as well as in her heart.
‘Dear Angel’ she would say ‘I love you so!’
‘And why’ the Angel asked.
‘Because you teach me how to be good, and to keep humble, and to please Jesus'."
More details of the Angelic letter deliveries in the life of St Gemma Galgani can be found here.