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William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews


GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (CNBNews)--I underwent a medical procedure at Cooper University Hospital in Camden City in early January. Wheeled into the operating room I was administered sedation, and the next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room. Once the sedation wore off, I was released.


While waiting in the hallway for someone to push my wheelchair to valet parking downstairs, my wife Connie handed me my wedding ring. She had been holding it since jewelry was prohibited in the room during the surgery.


As she hands me the ring, it slips out of my hand and falls to the floor, rolling down the hallway and out of sight. I got up to look for it, but a nurse warned me to get back in the wheelchair to avoid falling. I explained the situation, and several medical staff

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our wedding rings

members soon joined the search. More joined when they learned we would celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary this year on April 18.  All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind. I couldn't bear to lose that ring after all these years; it holds too much sentimental value. Why didn't I leave it at home? I kept asking myself. To make the ring even more special, Connie’s wedding band was soldered to mine. Due to severe arthritis, she is unable to wear her wedding ring.


A nurse suggested praying to Saint Anthony, who is known as the saint of lost things and hopeless cases. I tend to lose things and have become quite familiar with Saint Anthony. Throughout my life, he has also helped me with many hopeless cases. In fact, we have such a close relationship that he has permitted me to refer to him affectionately as Saint Tony.


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Anthony of Padua, OFM or Anthony of Lisbon was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Wikipedia
Born: August 15, 1195, Lisbon, Portugal 
Died: June 13, 1231 (age 35 years), Padua, Italy
Place of burial: The Basilica of St. Anthony, Padua, Italy
Parents: Teresa Pais Taveira, Vicente Martins
Attributes: Franciscan habit, lily, book, tonsure, holding the Infant Jesus, mule
Canonized: 30 May 1232, Spoleto, Italy, by Pope Gregory IX
Major shrine: Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Church of Saint Anthony of Lisbon

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. He is recognized as the patron saint of lost and stolen articles. The powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher is typically portrayed holding the child Jesus—or a lily—or a book—or all three—in his arms.  


According to one of the many books about his life, Anthony was born in 1195 (13 years after St. Francis) in Lisbon, Portugal, and given the name of Fernando at Baptism. His parents, Martin and Mary Bulhom, apparently belonged to one of the city's prominent families. At the age of 15, he entered the religious order of St. Augustine. 

You can read more about his life here.

Once at home, Connie emptied her pocketbook for the umpteenth time, and we each went through what we were wearing again, thinking it might have gotten embedded somehow in our clothes. Neither of us found anything. My left hand didn’t feel right without that ring. I even wore a cigar band on my finger for a few days. We had begun to give up hope. And I was contemplating buying a new wedding ring. 

A month goes by. At the beginning of the fifth week since my operation, I am working at my desk when Connie walks into the room. “You are not going to believe what I just found,” she says. “Take a guess.”   Unable to think of anything, I say, “I give up.” She opens her clenched fist, and in her hand is my wedding ring. 

“ I washed our sheets today, and when I began to put the cleaned bottom sheet on the bed, I looked, and your wedding ring was lying in the middle of the bed sparkling. Since you lost it at the hospital, I have washed and changed the sheets several times,” she said. 

I have been fervently praying to Saint Anthony ever since the day my/our rings fell on the hospital floor and vanished out of sight. We are convinced that our prayers have been answered, as it is not the first time Saint Anthony has come to our aid when we have lost something. In fact, this is the first time something that we had lost miles away has miraculously reappeared figuratively in mid-air at our house after five long weeks. We do not doubt that Saint Anthony “Tony” has again shown us his divine intervention.

As I think about what occurred, I find it quite intriguing. During a follow-up appointment with Dr. Rachel Frank at Cooper in Cherry Hill yesterday, she asked me about the lost ring. It was an interesting moment because I completely forgot about it until she mentioned it. As I recollected that day, I realized I had witnessed something remarkable. Now, I understand that the term "miracle" can be subjective and interpreted differently by people. It's entirely possible that others may not share the same view, and that's perfectly fine.

We want to thank the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who cared for me during my stay and for trying so hard to find my 60-year-old wedding ring.


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