There is perhaps no more loved and admired saint in the CatholicChurch than Saint Anthony of Padua, aDoctorof the Church.
St. Anthony was bornFernando Martins de Bouillon on August 15,1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. He was baptised "Fernando" in the Cathedral Church of old Lisbon. On the font is written: "Here the waters of holy baptism cleansed Anthony
from all stain of original sin. The world rejoicesin his light, Padua in his body, heaven in his soul."
Anthony was only 36 years old when he died just outside Padua, Italy, where he lived. Because of miracles Anthony performed while alive, including reattachingan amputated foot, he was canonised in the town of Spoleto by Pope Gregory IX on the 30th of May 1232. Anthony was declared a saint less than a year after he died.
Teacher, Preacher, Doctor of the Scriptures
St Anthony's father was Don Martino de Bouillon who was descended from the illustrious Godfrey de Bouillon, who led the first Crusade and was the first Frankish King of Jerusalem. This Godfrey was the grandson of Vincenzo de Bouillon, who followed King Alfonso I in his campaign against the Moors and was made governor of Lisbon. This office became hereditary and St Anthony was heir to it. Anthony's mother is given as Dona Teresa whose family reigned over the Asturias in the eighth century before the invasion of the Saracens.
His parents wanted Fernando to become a knight, but against the wishes of his family, when he was 15 years old, he joined the community of Canons Regular of St. Augustine in Lisbon, then left it and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when he was 26 years old. He took the name "Anthony" after the patron of the friary at Coimbra called St. Anthony of the Olives. There he studied theology and Latin.
The reason he became a Franciscan was because of the death of the five Franciscan martyrs -- St. Bernard, St. Peter, St. Otho, St. Accursius, and St. Adjutus -- who shed their blood for the CatholicFaith in the year 1220, in Morocco, North Africa, a very dangerous place in the Holy Land. Their headless and mutilated bodies had been brought to St. Anthony’s monastery on their way back for burial. He was deeply affected by their deaths because five months before, he had been guest master and looked after these same friars and knew them by name. Berard, Peter and Otto, were priests; Adiuto and Accursio were brothers. They had tried, out of love, to convert the Sultan of Morrocco and gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel.
St. Anthony became a Franciscan in the hope of shedding his own blood and becoming a martyr for Christ. He was travelling to Morocco. He wanted to preach the Gospel and die a martyr there the same way the five Franciscan martyrs had died earlier, but first fell ill and then, sailing home, was blown by a storm to a port in Italy, which set him on his real religious path, to preach the truths of the Catholic Faith. He lived only ten years after joining the Franciscan Order.
"Hammer of Heretics"
St. Anthony is celebrated as a teacher and preacher extraordinaire. Modest Anthony wanted only to learn and think in solitude,
but after giving a sermon that greatly moved a gathering of his fellow priests, St. Francis of Assisi asked Anthony to continue his religious teaching, his peacemaking and calls for justice. He was the first teacher in the Franciscan Order, given the special approval and blessing of St. Francis to instruct his brother Franciscans. From the time of his first sermon Anthony was always
on the road, devoting his time and talents to the work of preaching and teaching. Anthony spoke many languages. As a gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went. His fame spread quickly and soon he was commissioned by St Francis to preach everywhere.
His effectiveness as a preacher calling people back to the faith resulted in the title “Hammer of Heretics.” His great protection against their lies and deceits in the matter of Christian doctrine was to utter, simply and innocently, the Holy Name of Mary.
So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith, so that the most unlettered and innocent might understand it, that he was proclaimed a Doctorof the Universal Church by Pope Pius XII on January 16, 1946.
In canonizing Anthony in 1232, Pope Gregory IX spoke of him as the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.”
That explains why St. Anthony is frequently pictured with a burning light or a book of the Scriptures in his hands. It is in Anthony“s love of the word of God and his prayerful efforts to understand and apply it to the situations of everyday life that the Church especially wants us to imitate St. Anthony. While noting in the prayer of his feast Anthony’s effectiveness as an intercessor, the Church wants us to learn from Anthony, the teacher, the meaning of true wisdom and what it means to become like Jesus, who humbled and emptied himself for our sakes and went about doing good.
As well as his preaching Anthony was Guardian and minister over different friaries in France. After the death of St Francis, St Anthony was recalled to Italy and he became Provincial at Romagna in northern Italy.
The Fishes Miracle
When St. Anthony found he was preaching the true Gospel of the Catholic Church to hard hearted heretics, who would not listen to him, he was so fed up with these people of Rimini, Italy, he went to the town's river Brenta, and on the bank of the river, he preached to the fish. He told the townspeople the fish knew who their Creator was and knew His truths, that the fish would listen to bim better than they would. St. Anthony stood at the edge of the water and started to preach. At that moment multitudes of fishes came out of the water in the form of a Cross. When the townspeople saw that, they converted, and tens of thousands of people then flocked to his sermons.
The Donkey Miracle
A donkey, which kept fasting for three days, refused the oats placed before him, till he had knelt down and adored the Blessed Sacrament, which St. Anthony held in his hands. This miracle also took place in Rimini.
He wanted to teach the true Faith for the glory of God, the delight of the angels, and the easing of his own heart. St. Anthony wanted to profess the CatholicFaith with his mind and his heart, at every moment. Some 336 years after his death, his body
was exhumed. His tongue was totally incorrupt, his tongue was whole, life-like and of a natural colour, so perfect were the teachings that had been formed upon it. St Bonaventure, then the Minister General, seeing this miracle cried out, "O blessed tongue, you have always praised the Lord and led others to praise Him! Now we can clearly see how great indeed have been your merits before God."
Miracle of The Amputated Foot
At Padua took place the famous miracle of the amputated foot, which Franciscan writers attribute to St. Anthony.
A young man, Leonardo by name, in a fit of anger kicked his own mother. Repentant, he confessed his fault to St. Anthony who said to him: “The foot of him who kicks his mother deserves to be cut off.“ Leonardo ran home and cut off his foot. Learning of this, St. Anthony took the amputated member of the unfortunate youth and miraculously rejoined it.
St. Anthony and the Child Jesus
Though his rich parents wanted him to be a great statesman, he preferred to be poor for the sake of Christ and of His kingdom.
For Anthony, poverty was a way of imitating Jesus who was born in a stable and would have no place to lay his head.
St. Anthony sometimes slept in a cave on the bare ground with only a rock for a pillow.
St. Anthony visited the Lord of Chatenauneuf. Anthony was praying far into the night when suddenly the room was filled with light more brilliant than the sun. Jesus then appeared to St. Anthony under the form of a little child. Chatenauneuf, attracted by the
brilliant light that filled his house, was drawn to witness the vision, but promised to tell no one of it, until after St. Anthony’s death.
The Patron Saint for Finding Lost Things
He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus, to whom He miraculously appeared. Artists often portray Anthony holding a lily (a symbol of purity and innocence), the Baby Jesus and the Bible.
St. Anthony is the patron saint for finding lost things. He is also very powerful in returning children who have been lost, to their parents. Nearly everywhere St. Anthony is asked to intercede with God for the return of things lost or stolen. Those who feel very familiar with him may pray, “St. Tony, St. Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and must be found.”
The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order. A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony’s psalter!
Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. After Anthony's prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to him, and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. The stolen book is said to
be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.
Shortly after his death people began praying to St.Anthony to intercede for them, and find or recover lost and stolen articles.
This was the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., who proclaimed,
“The sea obeys and fetters break,And lifeless limbs thou dost restore, While treasures lost are found again, When young or old thine aid implore.”
Patron of Sailors, Travelers and Fishermen
In Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. Not only those who travel the seas, but also other travelers and vacationers pray that they may be kept safe because of Anthony’s intercession. Several miracles account for associating the saint with travelers and sailors.
First, there is the very real fact of Anthony’s own travels in preaching the gospel, particularly his journey and mission to preach the gospel in Morocco, a mission cut short by severe illness. But after his recovery and return to Europe, he was a man always on the go, heralding the Good News.
There is also a story of two Franciscan sisters who wished to make a pilgrimage to a shrine of our Lady but did not know the way. A young man is supposed to have volunteered to guide them. Upon their return from the pilgrimage one of the sisters announced that it was her patron saint, Anthony, who had guided them.
Still another story says that in 1647 Father Erastius Villani of Padua was returning by ship to Italy from Amsterdam. The ship with its crew and passengers was caught in a violent storm. All seemed doomed. Father Erastius encouraged everyone to pray to St. Anthony. Then he threw some pieces of cloth that had touched a relic of St. Anthony into the heaving seas. At once, the storm ended, the winds stopped and the sea became calm.
*Once he was offered poisoned food by some Italian heretics, which he rendered
innoxious by the sign of the cross.
*Preaching one night on Holy Thursday in the Church of St. Pierre du Queriox at
Limoges, he remembered he had to sing a Lesson of the Divine Office. Interrupting
suddenly his discourse, he appeared at the same moment among the friars in choir
to sing his Lesson, after which he continued his sermon.
*Another day preaching in the square des creux des Arenes at Limoges, he miraculously
preserved his audience from the rain.
*At St. Junien during the sermon, he predicted that by an artifice of the devil the pulpit
would break down, but that all should remain safe and sound. And so it occurred; for
while he was preaching, the pulpit was overthrown, but no one hurt; not even the saint
*When he was at Arles in France, St Francis appeared to the friars while St Anthony was
conducting a Local Chapter. He was seen to appear in the doorway with his arms
uplifted in the sign of the cross. It was a case of bilocation since St Francis was still
alive and in Assisi at the time.
*In a monastery of Benedictines, where he had fallen ill, he delivered by means of his
tunic one of the monks from great temptations.
*Likewise, by breathing on the face of a novice (whom he had himself received into the
order), he confirmed him in his vocation.
*At Brive, where he had founded a convent, he preserved from the rain the maid-servant
of a benefactress, who was bringing some vegetables to the brethren, for their meager repast.
Anthony's last sermons were preached in lent in Padua. During this time there was a complete uproar in the city, because the citizens could not provide enough accommodation or food, for the crowds that invaded the city to hear him preach.
The effect of his preaching in Padua was amazing: Quarrels were patched up, mortal enemies were reconciled, poor debtors were released from prison, restitution was made of illgotten goods, immoral men and women reformed their lives, thieves and criminals changed their ways, and the public life of Padua was very much improved.
After Easter, he and his companions went to a country estate to rest. There Anthony found a giant walnut tree which had six branches growing upward from the crown. With a sense of amusement, like small boys, the friars bound the branches together with woven willows and roofed it over with rushes, to make a cool airy cell for the tired preacher.
Anthony was very ill. His years of preaching had worn him out and he had developed dropsy, which made breathing difficult.
He had been finding it increasingly difficult to get about because his body had swollen up and refused to respond.
On June 13, 1231 he knew he was dying, and because he did not wish to be a lot of trouble to his friend whose estate he was staying at, he asked the brothers if they would take him back to Padua. The Friars placed him on a peasant's cart drawn by an
ox, and began the sorrowful journey back to the city. It was summer and with all the dust and heat he was soon unable to speak.
They halted at the convent of the Poor Clares at Arcella. There they placed him upright again so as to help him breathe.
He began to chant a Lauds hymn, and so singing with the brothers and sisters, he died. He was only 36 years old.
The friars thought to bring the body of St Anthony quietly back to Padua to their convent, but children began running through the streets crying out, "The holy father is dead; St Anthony is dead!"
For four days the people of Arcella and Capo di Ponte, where he died, tried to keep his remains. They blocked the bridge over the river and cut down a temporary one that was erected, but eventually, the Mayor of Padua outwitted them and the Bishop Jacopo Corrado, the clergy and the friars, and a procession of thousands of people brought the "Saint" back into the city of Padua.
Crowds of people poured into the Franciscan church to pray to the "Saint" and a steady stream of miracles caused a wave of enthusiasm among the populace. People flocked from all over the countryside to visit the tomb. The Bishop, the senate, the knights and university students, formed a council to put some order into these noisy gatherings.
People started bringing candles to burn. Before the month was over the city of Padua sent requests for Anthony to be listed
among the Saints.
St. Anthony's canonization was one of the fastest on record. It took less than 12 months.
Novena to St. Anthony of Padua
Say once a day for nine days, especially beginning on 4 June and ending on 12 June, the eve of the Feast of St. Anthony. Some pray a Novena to St. Anthony on thirteen consecutive Tuesdays, per the instructions of Pope Leo XIII, or on all Tuesdays.
O White lily of purity, sublime example of poverty, true mirror of humility, resplendent star of sanctity. O glorious St Anthony, who didst enjoy the sweet privilege of receiving into thy arms the Infant Jesus, I beseech thee to take me under they powerful protection. Thou in whom the power of working miracles shines forth among the other gifts of God, have pity upon me and come to my aid in this my great need.
(Mention your intentions here).
Cleanse my heart from every disorderly affection, obtain for me a true contrition for my sins and a great love of God and of my neighbour that serving God faithfully in this life, I may come to praise, enjoy and bless Him eternally with thee in Paradise. Amen
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.