THE DEATH OF BLESSED ANTHONY
In the year of our Lords incarnation 1231, in the fourth indiction, on the thirteenth day of June, the sixth of the week, the most blessed father and our confrere Anthony, Iberian by origin, in the city of Padua where the Most High exalted His own name through him, in the dwelling of the friars at Arcella, having set forth on the journey of all flesh, happily passed on to the mansions of the heavenly spirits.
When for some time he had left behind the crowds of people who flocked together from everywhere to hear and see him, he withdrew, for reasons of rest, from the city of Paduato Camposampiero, and began to give himself exclusively to God. If any dust from his frequent contacts with people in the world had adhered to him, as is usual, he wanted to wipe it off with the tears of devotion and with the hair of holy meditation.
When, on a certain day [June 13, 1231], called by the bell for lunch, he came down from his cell, which he had asked to be built in the nut tree, he sat down at the table with the friars as was his custom. But the hand of the Lord descended on him there, and he suddenly began to be forsaken by the powers of his whole body. Ad the infirmity increased noticeably, he rose from the table, supported by the friars, but, not being able to hold up his weak limbs, he quickly laid himself on a straw bed [He was overcome by a seizure of some kind].
The servant of God, feeling therefore that his bodily death was imminent, called to himself one of his confreres and companions, a certain Roger, and said to him, Brother, if you agree, I would like to go to Padua, to the place of St. Mary, in order not to burden these friars. When the brother was persuaded, and a cart had been brought, the holy father was placed on it, although the local friars were opposed as much as possible that he be taken anywhere else. But, since they saw that the most blessed Anthony wished this, they unwillingly gave in to what was being done.
Friar Vinotus, who was on his way to visit the man of God, met him when he was already approaching the city. When he saw that Anthony was grievously suffering from the malady, he began to beseech him to stop at the house of the friars at Arcella. In fact, friars lived there next to the monastery of the Poor Ladies, taking care of their spiritual needs, according to the custom of the order. Then, the same friar added that a great tumult and not a bit of confusion would occur at the friars place once they entered the city because they would be exposed to the troublesome onrush of people. Hearing these things, the servant of God assented to the requests of the petitioner and, acquiescing to his wishes, changed his direction for the friars house.
Once he found himself with the friars at Arcella, the hand of the Lord weighed heavier on him and, as the malady grew more violent, he showed signs of intense anguish. When he had rested for a brief moment, having confessed and received absolution, he began to sing a hymn to the glorious Virgin, saying, O glorious Lady, etc.
Having finished the hymn, he suddenly raised his eyes toward heaven and, with a stunned look, stared in front of himself for a long time. When the friar who was supporting him asked what he saw, he answered, I see my Lord.
The friars who were present, seeing that his happy end was approaching, decided to anoint the saint of God with the oil of holy unction. When a certain friar came to him, carrying the sacred oil as usual, blessed Anthony looked straight at him and said, Brother, it is not necessary to do this to me, for I already have this anointing within me. Nonetheless, it is good for me and I agree to it.
And, having extended his hands and then joined his palms, he sang the penitential psalms with the friars until he completed them to the end. He still held up for almost half an hour. Then, that most holy soul, freed from the prison of his flesh, was absorbed into the abyss of light.
Truly, his body bore altogether the appearance of someone sleeping. And, even his hands, having become very white, surpassed the beauty of their former complexion. His other bodily limbs proved to be flexible, conforming to the touch of those who handled them.
O truly holy servant of the Most High, you merited even during this life, to see the Lord! O most holy soul, even if a persecutors cruelty did not carry you away, nevertheless the desire of martyrdom and the sword of compassion transfixed you a thousand times over! Worthy father, welcome kindly those who honour you with sacrifices of their devotion, and, through your intercession, help us who are still not allowed to draw close to the face of God. Amen.
Source: LIFE OF ST. ANTHONY ASSIDUA by a contemporary Franciscan [Translated by Bernard Przewozny, OFMConv.] Edizioni Messaggero, Padua