Feast Day : October 24
Anthony Mary Claret was born December 24, 1807, in Sallent, Catalonia, in northeastern Spain. His father was a weaver who kept his small factory in the family home. As a boy, he experienced his first miracle when he went swimming one day at the beach at Carceloneta, and was swept out to sea by a huge wave. His friends thought him drowned. Anthony had the presence of mind to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help, and another wave deposited him back ashore. Anthony intended to follow in his father’s footsteps, and when he was 18 his father sent him to a designer’s school in Barcelona. There he became attracted to the religious life and announced his intent to study for the priesthood and become a Jesuit. His health prevented him from being accepted. Instead, he became a secular priest in the diocese of Vich at age 28. He was assigned to Sallent. Soon he felt a calling to become a missionary, which he did with Rome’s approval. He traveled through Catalonia, the Canary Islands and parts of Spain, working in the style of the apostles. In 1849, Anthony founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which became known as the Claretians. The same year, he was named archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, where he spent the next six years. He was popular and effective, but his success attracted enemies, and Anthony was subjected to many trials. In 1857 he returned to the court of Queen Isabella as her confessor. He endured political persecution and accompanied the queen into exile in France in 1868 for a year. He then participated in the First Vatican Council in 1869 and 1870, still enduring persecution. Anthony returned to France and died on October 24, 1870, in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southern France. He had preached 25,000 sermons, written 144 works and performed many miracles. So many miracles happened in the Church of Montserrat through the prayers of the saint that it became known as the Church of Miracles. He was seen to levitate while deep in prayer, rising slowly into the air in a kneeling position until he was more than two feet off the ground. One witness attested to the “heat of great devotion” that emanated from his body during one such episode. People liked to touch his clothing or kiss his hand because of the sweet odor of sanctity that he carried. He also was seen with his face transfigured, and surrounded by an aura of brilliant light. Anthony also had the gifts of prophecy and discernment, knowing the sins and faults of those with whom he came into contact. He said he could “read their consciences.” He had the gift of miraculous transport. While a seminarian, he lived at Vich in the rectory of Don Fortunato Bres, his friend and adviser. Many years later, Bres, on his way to mass one winter day, slipped on ice and broke his leg. He asked for Anthony, who was many miles away, to be notified. Ten minutes later, Anthony arrived. The route was snow-covered, and it was snowing at the time, but Anthony was not wet. He said that “an irresistible impulse” had caused him to come to Don Fortunato.While in Cuba, Anthony seemed to be able to prevent earthquakes during a time of frequent earthquakes. Once while preaching in a public square, the earth trembled, but the saint assured people that all would be well. There were no earthquakes. He also calmed storms.