SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA (1195-1231), priest and Doctor of the Church – Patron saint for seekers of lost articles, souls who have lost their way in life, the poor, pregnant women, sailors and fisherman
The Gospel call to leave everything and follow Christ was the rule of Saint Anthony of Padua’s life. Over and over again, God called him to something new in His Divine providential plan. And every time, Anthony responded with renewed zeal and a self-sacrificing love to serve his Lord Jesus more completely. And it is this devoted servant whom the universal Church honors today.
Born to a noble family in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195, and baptized with the name Ferdinand, his journey as a servant of God began as a very young man when he decided to join the Augustinians in Lisbon, giving up a future of wealth and power.
Later, when the bodies of the first Franciscan martyrs were carried through the Portuguese city where he was studying, he was again filled with an intense longing to be one of those closest to Jesus himself, those who die for the Good News.
As a consequence, he entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of Anthony, and, after being ordained a priest, he started to set out to preach to the Moors. But an illness prevented him from achieving that goal. He ended up traveling to Italy and was stationed in a small hermitage where he spent most of his time praying, reading the Scriptures and doing menial tasks.
The call of God came again at an ordination ceremony for a number of Franciscan and Dominican friars, where no one was prepared to speak at the service. The humble and obedient Friar Anthony hesitantly accepted the task.
The years of searching for Jesus in prayer, of reading Sacred Scripture and of serving Him in poverty, chastity and obedience had prepared Anthony to allow the Spirit to use his talents. Anthony’s sermon was astounding to those who expected an unprepared speech and were not expecting the Spirit’s power to give Friar Anthony such words.
Recognized as a great man of prayer and a great Scripture and theology scholar, Anthony became the first friar to teach theology to the other friars. Soon, he was called from that post to preach to the Albigensians, a group of heretics in southern France, using his profound knowledge of Scripture and theology to convert and reassure those who had been misled.
After he led the friars in northern Italy for three years, he made his headquarters in the city of Padua. He resumed his preaching and began writing sermon notes to help other preachers. Anthony was such a gifted speaker that, wherever he spoke, he attracted large crowds.
Anthony died at the young age of thirty-six on June 13, 1231 in the city of Padua, and was canonized a saint only eleven months later on May 30, 1232 by Pope Gregory IX, who was moved by the many miracles that occurred at Anthony’s tomb. In 1946, Saint Anthony of Padua was declared a Doctor of the Church by Venerable Pope Pius XII.
Saint Anthony was a simple and humble friar who preached the Good News lovingly and with fearless courage. This youthful friar, whom his fellow friars thought was uneducated, became one of the great preachers and theologians of his day. He was a man of great penance and apostolic zeal. But he was primarily a saint of the people.
We commemorate his feastday on June 13.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Anthony of Padua)
“Almighty God, You have given Saint Anthony to Your people as an outstanding preacher and a ready helper in time of need. With his assistance, may we follow the Gospel of Christ and know the help of Your grace in every difficulty.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”