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David and Mercedes Rizzo reflect on the ways they've prayed for saintly intercession as parents of a young adult with special needs.

Recently on a trip to Pittsburgh, we discovered a hidden gem tucked away in a small neighborhood overlooking the city. We almost didn't find Saint Anthony’s Chapel, as it was a rainy cold day, gray and dark, as we made our way and suddenly missed our turn. Eventually, we were able to turn around and find our way to the historic chapel. We came upon a stone church with twin steeples and stained glass. Inside this building was a treasure. 


Art, relics, and sacramentals help families maintain faith 

It’s a small chapel but a truly special place. It houses a large collection of relics: more than 5000 relics. There is an arch that reads “Here Lie the Saints in Peace” in Latin. There’s a first-class relic of Saint Anthony. There’s even reputed to be a splinter from the True Cross and a thorn from Jesus’ crown. One of the most amazing aspects of the chapel is the life-sized Stations of the Cross carved out of wood and beautifully painted. Looking around, we saw stained-glass windows honoring Mary the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and Saint Anthony of Padua. 


Saint Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh


Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost causes and lost things: not just lost things, but also people who are lost. As a special-needs family, we certainly have felt lost at times. We also have turned to the saints and their relics for help and guidance when we’ve felt the need for their powerful intercession. This chapel was a very prayerful place, and it felt good to pray there on a damp, rainy day in a city we had never visited before. Being inside the chapel — just sitting there, immersed in its beauty — we felt peaceful. Special-needs parents often need to feel this serenity.   

We lit a candle and prayed for our family and many things. Prayer gives us the opportunity to cultivate a joyous spirit. When we exited the chapel, our steps felt lighter, our shoulders not quite so hunched. Our hearts, grim and burdened just moments before, had lightened too. Now there was room for joy to enter in.    




Many are familiar with this prayer: "Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and needs to be found." We have said this for lost cell phones, lost keys, and lost wallets. Somehow Saint Anthony always comes through. Yet who would have thought that in this little stone chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania we would stand in the presence of Saint Anthony and hundreds of other saints and find hope and serenity?

Churches like this one are a testament to the Catholic imagination, which has nourished the faith of so many people in so many ages and circumstances. It nourished us. Saint Anthony’s Chapel nourished us. 


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Copyright 2024 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Images: copyright 2024 David and Mercedes Rizzo, all rights reserved.