Saint Anthony is generally represented having the Infant Jesus on his left arm, or standing before him on his prie-dieu. The origin of this representation goes back to his life, but was not known to the world until after his death.
When preaching in Padua he had to live in the nearest Convent of his Order at Arcella, situated about a mile from the city. His labors being frequently prolonged to a late hour in the night, his Superior permitted him to stay at the house of his devoted friend, Count Tiso. Here Saint Anthony used to spend his nights in prayer at which the Infant Jesus deigned to visit him. The Count, anxious to know what his friend was doing, once went near his room, and was surprised to see in it a heavenly light, and the Infant Jesus caressed by our Saint. When the Infant left, he told Anthony that they had been watched by his host; but the next morning Anthony humbly begged his friend not to tell anyone of this apparition.
The lily in the hand of Saint Anthony signifies his love for purity. It reminds us also of his great humility and modesty.