Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Saint

CATHOLIC SAINTS 28-12-2023, 19:42

  st.Anthony of Padua


Saint Anthony of Padua

Catholic Saint

st.Anthony of Padua-Franciscan_ Doctor of the Church

Feast Day :June 13



Patronage: amputees; animals; barrenness; boatmen; donkeys; elderly people; expectant mothers; fishermen; harvests; horses; lost articles; mariners; Native Americans; the oppressed; the poor; Portugal; against shipwrecks; against starvation; sterility; the Tigua Indian tribe; travelers




Name meaning: Inestimable




Also known as: Hammer of the Heretics, Ark of The Covenant, the Wonder-Worker



Anthony of Padua, one of the most beloved and revered saints of the Church, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195 to wealthy, noble parents. He was christened Ferdinand. Some have given his family name as de Bulhoes; writers of the 15th century linked him to Godfrey de Bouillon, commander of the First Crusade. But all that is known of his childhood is that he was educated at the cathedral school in Lisbon. In 1210, at age 15, Ferdinand joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in the convent of São Vicente outside the city walls. To avoid the distractions of friends and visitors, Ferdinand asked to be reassigned to the convent of Santa Croce in Coimbra two years later. There he worked and studied for eight years, where his intelligence and amazing memory enabled Ferdinand to accumulate a wealth of knowledge of theology and Scripture. Ferdinand’s life changed in 1220, when Don Pedro brought from Morocco to Coimbra the relics of the first Franciscan martyrs. Fired with missionary zeal and seeking martyrdom, Ferdinand knew he had no chance to convert the Saracens merely as a canon regular. After pouring out his emotions to a group of Franciscan brothers who had come to the convent to beg, Ferdinand left his order and joined the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor at Olivares, taking the name Anthony after Antony Abbot, patriarch of monks and monasteries.


Anthony left for Morocco late in 1220, but became so ill on his arrival that he tried to return to Portugal. Shipwrecked during a storm at Messina, Sicily, Anthony remained there for several months to recuperate. While in Sicily, the brothers told Anthony that a general chapter of the Franciscans was to be held in Assisi, the last chapter open to all brethren. Anthony traveled to Assisi in May 1221 for the chapter, presided over by Vicar General Elias, with St. Francis sitting at Elias’s feet. Once the chapter concluded, Anthony was assigned to the hermitage at Montepaolo near Forli, outside Bologna. There he lived quietly, celebrating Mass for the lay brethren and working in the kitchen. No one knew of his education. But Anthony’s talents were soon recognized. Due to a misunderstanding, there was no speaker for an ordination ceremony held at Forli for both Dominicans and Franciscans. Neither order had anyone prepared to give the homily. In desperation, the superior asked Anthony to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony protested but obeyed, delivering a moving and eloquent sermon to the astonishment of his listeners. Brother Gratian, minister provincial, sent Anthony to preach throughout Lombardy, and St. Francis himself appointed Anthony as lector, or teacher, of theology to the Franciscans the first member of the order to fill that position. Anthony taught at Bologna and the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse.


He attended the general chapter at Arles, France, in 1226, and, following St. Francis’s death in October of that year, served as envoy from the chapter to Pope Gregory IX (r. 1227–41) to present Francis’s rule to the papacy. He was elected minister provincial of Emilia in May 1227, a demanding job that required travel to all the priories under his jurisdiction. He also wrote sermons for feast days, for saints’ days and for regular Sunday worship. Anthony’s true gift, however, was preaching. His eloquence, powers of persuasion, messianic zeal and sonorous voice inspired thousands, and he never hesitated to use his pulpit to fight for the poor, the prisoners, debtors and disenfranchised. He was as likely to reprove a bishop for his ways as to cherish a child. Needless to say, Anthony attracted huge crowds to hear him speak, and the stories of his miracles soon followed. One legend says that while he was walking on a seacoast, reflecting about the frequent appearance of fish in the Gospels, the fish rose out of the water and gathered around him to listen. Another says he restored a field ready to be harvested after followers had trampled it. He miraculously protected his listeners from the rain, and he prophesied the destruction of his pulpit by the Devil during another sermon. In one village, a wife forbidden to go hear Anthony speak threw open the window to catch what words she could. Anthony’s voice so inspired the husband that he repented. One of Anthony’s frequent sermon topics was heresy.


Different heresies by the Cathars (or Albigensians) and the Waldensians wracked Germany, northern Italy and southern France. Known as the “hammer of heretics,” or malleus hereticorum, Anthony zealously spoke out against their efforts to demean the role of the clergy (whom the heretics believed corrupt) and to question the Presence in the sacraments. One miraculous story tells that an Albigensian named Bonvillo challenged Anthony regarding the Eucharist. If a mule who hadn’t eaten in three days bowed before the Eucharist before eating anything, then the Albigensian would believe. The mule was offered hay but he refused to eat before acknowledging the Holy Presence. In May 1230, Anthony asked Pope Gregory IX (r.1227–41) to release him from his duties as minister provincial in order that he might spend more time on preaching and prayer. Anthony retired to the convent of Padua, which he had founded, but continued his efforts for the people. Hating usury, he lobbied and persuaded the municipality of Padua in March 1231 to pass a law allowing debtors to remain out of debtors’ prison if they had any other sources of recompense. The year before he had traveled to Verona to beg liberty for Guelph political prisoners from the Ghibelline tyrant Ezzelino. His last major sermon was during Lent in 1231. Right after Easter, Anthony became ill with dropsy and left Padua with two other friars for a woodland retreat at Camposanpiero. The brothers built him a small house in a walnut tree, where he lived for a short while. Realizing he was dying, Anthony asked to return to Padua. He made it as far as the convent of Poor Clares in Arcella, where he died on June 13, 1231, in the chaplain’s apartment. Anthony was 36. Immediately after his death, Anthony supposedly appeared to the abbot at Vercelli, Thomas Gallo, who announced the holy man’s passing to the grieving citizens of Padua.


Reportedly a group of Paduan children also received the message and announced Anthony’s death. Although the Poor Clares at Arcella tried to claim Anthony’s body, it was taken to Padua for burial at the Church of Our Lady. Shortly after his canonization in 1232, a Moroccan-style basilica was begun in his honor, and his relics were transferred there in 1263. When St. Bonaventure, Minister General, opened Anthony’s tomb for the transferral, he found the saint’s tongue uncorrupted and still red in color. Bonaventure kissed the tongue and praised its former abilities of speech as a gift from God. References to Anthony’s “honeyed tongue” are revealed in the appearance of bees in icons and paintings. Artists since the 17th century have depicted Anthony holding the Infant Jesus a legend says that once, while staying with friends, Anthony’s host spied on him and found him enraptured, holding the Christ Child. Anthony also appears with a book for wisdom, with a lily for purity, and with his devout mule. On Tuesdays, Franciscans customarily give bread or alms to the poor called “St. Anthony’s bread.”

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