In honor of St. Anthony's day, which was yesterday, I'm re-posting this photo-essay which was first published on Feb. 10, 2011.
On Tuesday, arriving in Morelia, Mexico on Day One of the Monarch Butterflies and Michoacån Cuisine tour, I didn’t see a single butterfly but did learn about a place that may be more efficient than E-Harmony and Match.com in helping single ladies find the man of their dreams.
It was San Miguelito, the restaurant in Morelia where we ate the first night. It calls itself a “Restaurante, Bazar, Galeria, & Museo” and they’re not kidding.
In addition to scrumptious Mexican food, they sell Day of the Dead figures, Botero-like fat little angels, a wooden chair that is also a skeleton, and aprons imprinted with Guadalupe.
But the main draw is the back room, which, in addition to dining tables and chairs, holds more than 700 images of St. Anthony of Padua all UPSIDE DOWN.
For over twenty years, according to proprietor Cynthia Martinez, single women have been thronging to this room to beg St. Anthony to intercede for them and send their destined mate to their side.
There are bulletin boards filled with photos and thanks from satisfied customers who have finally met their soul mate.
Here is what you have to do: take 13 coins of the same denomination from two bags hanging nearby. Line up 13 coins on the base of the main St Anthony statue. Walk around the statue 13 times. Pray to St. Anthony. (Suggested prayer below. The restaurant also provides a Spanish-language version.)
There is a three-hole notebook below the statue on which you can write your specific request. One woman covered 21 pages detailing her requirements in a mate.
Nearby is a shelf holding some of the dozens of notebooks which have been filled in the past two decades with single women’s requests.
Back in the U.S. I had heard that people wanting to sell their homes would bury a statue of St Anthony in the front year, upside down of course, to speed up the sale. (A new friend, Christina, tells me that that’s actually St. Joseph.)
I think the point of the St. Anthony ritual is that, when your wish is fulfilled, you will release the saint and turn him back over. But the St. Anthonys at San Miguelito restaurant in Morelia have been standing upside-down for so long, while bringing couples together, that I don’t think they have any hope of landing on their feet again.
Here is a poster on the restaurant’s wall advertising the Saint’s miraculous powers to lead you to love.
If you want to try this ritual at home: get your own statue of St. Anthony and 13 identical coins and give it a try. Here is a suggested prayer I found on the internet. If you would like to have the Spanish-language prayer given out by San Miguelito Restaurant, write me at JoanPGage@yahoo.com.