Thursday, June 13, 2013

St. Anthony and Liberace

Liberace with Pope Pius XII.


I don't know anything about Liberace's private life, but I do recall stories I heard as a kid, especially his devotion to St. Anthony.  Since the making of the HBO film, billed 'too gay for theaters' critics have disputed the Catholic faith of Liberace, especially since his former 'lover' supposedly failed to mention much about it in his tell-all book the film is based upon.

St. Anthony of Padua

That being said, I have always heard that Liberace was a faithful Catholic.  I was never a fan of the man, although my parents appeared to be, and that was the talk.  My mother always liked to pick out all the Catholics in the entertainment industry.  Obviously she only knew what she read in the fan magazines.  Was Liberace a Catholic?  Yes.  A faithful Catholic?  Probably.  But he was gay and engaged in unnatural vice. 

How can that be defined as faithful?  How can a sinner be a faithful Catholic?  Aren't we all sinners?  Therefore, it seems to me if he attended Mass but did not receive Holy Communion without first going to confession, that can be a sort of profession of faith.  Divorced and remarried Catholics do that.  Moreover, if he died a good death, receiving the sacraments, that is truly an act of faith, accepted by the Church.  (I could be wrong of course, so stop reading now.)

That said, the man was Catholic, no matter his lifestyle.  He also had a huge devotion to St. Anthony - which I always attributed to his Italian heritage - having forgotten the story of his 'miraculous cure'.
Liberace's Palm Springs St. Anthony home chapel.

Thus, in honor of St Anthony, special intercessor for 'lost souls', the following is a brief account of Liberace's miracle.  Liberace had a lobby in a Catholic hospital dedicated to him after his miracle...  At the dedication of the lobby in 1986, "Liberace made his entrance while a protege played "When the Saints Come Marching In."  What?
Liberace's link to the hospital dates back to 1963, when he was rushed to St. Francis from a performance in Monroeville. The gilded pianist had inhaled fumes while cleaning one of his trademark costumes and suffered kidney failure. 
The story goes that a nun came to Liberace's hospital room and suggested he pray to St. Anthony for a miracle. Dependent on a dialysis machine and facing only a 20 percent chance of survival, Liberace took the advice and prayed in earnest.His recovery was dramatic. 
Grateful for the medical and spiritual care, Liberace made several visits to the hospital in subsequent years. He supported fund-raisers and always made sure the sisters had tickets to his shows. In 1986, when St. Francis opened the $1.8 million lobby, the sisters dedicated it to Liberace. - Source
And from Liberace's autobiography:
The Wonderful Private World Of Liberace:
"A very young and lovely nun wearing a white habit came to see me late one night, when I was very near death. She said she was going to pray to Saint Anthony for me, and he would make me well.

The very next day, I began to get well. I described the nun to the Mother Superior at the hospital and asked who she was. The Mother Superior said 'There are no nuns in the hospital who wear white habits.'" - Source


  1. All I really knew about Liberace is that I met him when I was about 13 years old in San Francisco. He was going through the lobby of The Fairmont on the way to do his show. He was so gracious, kindly signed an autograph for me, and spoke with me for quite some time. You could tell he was for real. After that I was a fan.

    He preferred to keep his sex life very private and I wish more people, both homo and hetro, would do that also. I'm so tired of it all...

    1. I couldn't agree with you more.

      Get this however - I was going to do a link to you and make some story up about you and him liking a lot of glitz! haha! And you really did meet him.


  2. Shiny objects! Yay...

    The funny part of the story was that on his way through the lobby he stepped on my uncles foot, who was sitting in on of their lovely chairs. Anyhoo, my uncle (by marriage) was a quite famous rose hybridizer (Queen Elizabeth, Chrysler Imperial, and Blaze among his roses.) He was also a geneticist, entomologist, and one of the founders of the Creation Research Society.

    Now Liberace was dressed completely in sequins and wearing an ermine trimmed cape. He looked like one of the Fairmont chandeliers had suddenly sprouted legs and was walking through the lobby. Liberace stopped to offer profuse apologies for stepping on Walter's foot and my uncle is so like an absent minded professor that he didn't even notice anything unusual about Liberace and had no idea of who he was.

  3. " He looked like one of the Fairmont chandeliers had suddenly sprouted legs and was walking through the lobby."


  4. +JMJ+

    St. Anthony de Padua was also the Confirmation saint of novelist Anthony Burgess, who was also a lapsed Catholic. Burgess once heard Mass at a church named after St. Anthony and was so moved by it that he was determined never to return. He knew that if he did, he would keep going back, and that if he kept going back, he would become a practicing Catholic again. And he didn't want that! =P


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