Skip to comments.The Life Of Saint Anthony Of Padua
Posted on 06/12/2002 6:17:00 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
THE LIFE OF SAINT ANTHONY
by John Cooper ofm cap.
Anthony was born at Lisbon in Portugal in 1195.(1) 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 rejoices in his light, Padua in his body, heaven in his soul." (2)
His father, was a revenue officer and knight (3) at the court of Alfonso II, king of Portugal. When Fernando was 15 years old, he joined the community of Canons Regular of St Augustine in Lisbon. However, because of the constant visits of his family, he asked to be moved to another house of the Order.
At seventeen he was transferred, more than 175km away, to the Augustinian Monastery of Santa Cruz at Coimbra which was renowned for its biblical scholarship. Here he spent nine years in intense study. There is every indication that during this time he learned the Sacred Scriptures off by heart. However, it is possible that he was not ordained during this period as it was a custom of the time to be ordained at the age of thirty.(4)
When he was 25 years old he was inspired to die for Christ by the martyrdom of the first Franciscan Friars whose bodies were brought back from Morocco to Coimbra where he was studying. 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. Fernando also wanted to die for Christ. In his enthusiasm he went to the Franciscan Friary at Coimbra, and said to the friars, "If I may go to Morocco and imitate these brothers, I will gladly join you."
Soon after, with the reluctant permission of his Augustinian superior he joined the Franciscan Friars taking the name "Anthony" after the patron of the friary at Coimbra called St Anthony of the Olives. Anthony probably took vows immediately as there was no novitiate at that time.(5)Within a few months he was sailing for Morocco to achieve his dream of martyrdom.
However, God had other plans for this generous young man. Soon he became so ill with malarial fever that it was necessary for him to set sail for home. On the return voyage a violent storm arose and the ship had to turn and run before the wind. They were blown all the way to Sicily where they found safety in the harbour at Messina. In this city Anthony found a group of Franciscan Friars and hearing of a great meeting of the friars at Pentecost he happily accompanied these friars north to Assisi.There on the 23rd of May, 1221(6) he attended the great Chapter of Mats and was one unknown, new, foreign friar among the thousands gathered for the meeting.
St Francis was very ill during the meeting and he had to whisper to Br Elias his Vicar, who then shouted out Francis' admonitions to the friars. No doubt St Anthony saw St Francis and was inspired by him, but it is not recorded that they met at this time. As the Chapter broke up St Anthony was ignored by everyone. None of the Provincials really wanted this foreign friar. For some reason St Anthony did not impress anyone. Was it simply humility? Was he distracted? His biographers say that he looked rather simple and even stupid.(7)
We can only guess at the poignancy of this moment. Perhaps St Anthony, thwarted in his desire for martyrdom, discovered in the poverty and simplicity of St Francis, a new way to achieve his goal of martyrdom. He had died to his family and his country; now he could die to himself. He could enter into the spirituality of Martyrdom which St Francis himself was perfecting in the furnace of love and self sacrifice. To grasp this better it is necessary to study the Admonitions of St Francis which St Anthony would have heard at this great Chapter of Mats. Thus we might understand that St Anthony did not so much seek to hide his talents at this point in time, but to die to them. Perhaps he did this because that is what he thought the Lord wanted him to do.
Finally as all the friars were leaving he caught the attention of Friar Gratian, Provincial of Romagna (North Italy), who sent him to a small hermitage at Monte-Paolo near Forli. In this small fraternity he lived a simple life doing menial tasks like cleaning and gardening, setting tables and washing dishes. He was known only as a simple brother who lived cheerfully among his brethren in contemplation and fraternity; in poverty and joy - for 12 months.
In 1222, when St Anthony was 27 years old, a number of Dominicans and Franciscans were ordained by Bishop Ricciardellus Belmonti. St Anthony was present at the reception given at the Dominican Priory after the ordinations. It seems that the preacher who was to speak at this occasion did not arrive, so the provincial asked if someone else would give a short sermon to suit the occasion. No one was willing to just get up in front of such a group and preach, so they all declined the invitation. The provincial then ordered Br Anthony to say a few simple words.
It is said that he began to speak slowly at first and then more steadily. As he began to speak his words captured their imagination and their hearts caught fire under the power of the Holy Spirit. When he was finished all the friars realized that they were in the presence of a brilliant and powerful preacher. It was a dramatic moment. If Friar Anthony had not been ordained by this time his ordination would have occurred shortly after.
St Anthony was one of God's surprises for St Francis. The founder of the Franciscans had a deep suspicion of learning and he manifested this quite clearly. For St Francis a "spirit of prayer and devotion" was more important than work, study or even preaching. However once the friars recognised St Anthony's tremendous knowledge they asked him to teach them. He asked permission of St Francis first. Calling St Anthony "my bishop" out of respect, because a bishop is the teacher and guardian of the flock, St Francis wrote:
One would think that the study of Theology and Scripture would lead to a "Spirit of prayer and devotion" but St Francis instinctively knew better and warned St Anthony to be discerning of the hearts of his students while he was teaching them.
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. His fame spread quickly and soon he was commissioned by St Francis to preach everywhere. He journeyed to many places in Italy and also to many parts of Southern France on what became an evangelical crusade. His brilliant sermons and special style drew such huge crowds that the churches could not hold the people who came to hear him. A platform had to be set up outside in the town square because of the number of people who came to hear him speak. Soon the platform had to be built outside the town and cities. Eventually ten, twenty and thirty, thousand people were attending his sermons. At the news of his coming, shops were shuttered, markets suspended, and law courts closed. During the night before the sermon, the whole countryside became alive with flitting lights as people began to converge from all sides to the place he was to preach.
His sermons were electrifying, not simply because he was a good speaker: poise, delivery, conviction, personal charm, amazing memory, mastery of theology, scripture and various sciences, but also because he made a virulent attack on the prevalent sins of contemporary high society; their greed, their luxurious living, their tyranny. He spoke pointedly to Bishops and priests if he knew of their failure to live up to the high standards of their calling and especially when they failed to defend the flock given into their care. He called on those who were listening to repent and to face up to the challenge of living a Christian life. He and the friars with him spent a great deal of time after his sermons hearing confession.
Against heretics, St Anthony backed up his arguments with an amazing knowledge of Sacred Scripture. He presented the faith in a positive way capturing the imagination of the people. When heretics would not listen, he got their attention with miracles. At Rimini, a town on the Adriatic Sea, the people would not listen to him, so he turned towards the water and preached to the fish. Along with St Francis' preaching to the birds it remains one of the most delightful stories from the lives of the saints.
We have two volumes of St Anthony's sermons for Sundays and Feastdays, however they are not the ones he preached, but rather sermon notes for other preachers to use. In these he made abundant use of nature which he used as symbols. He often used the symbol of fire for "love and devotion" and in art he is sometimes shown holding a flame. In one of his sermons he writes, "When the Holy Spirit enters a soul, He fills it with his fire and lets it enkindle others."
As well as his preaching Anthony was Guardian and minister over different friaries in France. It was when he was at Arles in France that 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. After the death of St Francis, St Anthony was recalled to Italy and he became Provincial at Romagna in northern Italy. In 1228 he preached in Rome before Pope Gregory IX and also to the clergy and the people. Pope Gregory was so impressed that he called St Anthony an "Armory of the Bible." He declared that he was sure that if all the bibles in the world were lost Friar Anthony could surely rewrite them.
At the turbulent General Chapter of the friars in 1230, St Anthony was elected to be included in a delegation that went before the Pope to ask for an explanation of the Rule and Testament of St Francis. The friars wanted to know if they were bound to obey the Testament of St Francis and if they had to live the whole Gospel or simply what was in the Rule. On September 28th 1230 Pope Gregory IX replied in the Bull Quo Elongati that 1. St Francis' Testament had no binding power on the friars. 2. That only the evangelical counsels expressed in the Rule were binding on the friars.
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 13th 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 street 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 he "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. He was canonised in the town of Spoleto by Pope Gregory IX on the 30th of May 1232. Of the 56 miracles accepted for his canonization only one was noted as having occurred during his life time. Perhaps the speed of his canonization process did not allow all the evidence of his miracles to be collected. When his body was exhumed to be transferred it was found that although his body had disintegrated his tongue was whole, life-like and of a natural colour. 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."
© 2001 Capuchin Franciscan Friars of Australia
. He spoke pointedly to Bishops and priests if he knew of their failure to live up to the high standards of their calling and especially when they failed to defend the flock given into their care.
That's today! Thank you for posting this. The parish I attend is St. Anthony of Padua and we have a lovely statue from Italy of him holding a bible, the child Jesus and lilies. Our pastor spoke of St. Anthony in his sermon last Sunday and after the High Mass led a procession out to another statue of St. Anthony.
St. Anthony, pray for us!
The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages.These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ,such as humility,poverty,patience and obedience;we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others,Actions speak louder than words;let your words teach and your actions speak.We are full of words but empty of actions,and therefore are cursed by the Lord,since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves.Gregory says:"A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches."It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.
We should speak,then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech.Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment,insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments.Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendor of the saints and to look upon the triune God.
Do we have anyone like this in today's times?
There seem to be a few on FR...
From the website Saints O'the Day
"He had a remarkable knowledge of the Bible, and his sermons impressed the erudite no less than the simple, whether he was speaking on behalf of Christian living or against false doctrine. He was strong and fearless, merciless towards oppressors of the defenseless and towards venal clergy. At Bourges, France, after delivering his sermon to the faithful, Antony turned towards the archbishop and openly reprimanded him for his vices.
Saint Anthony Pray for us.
I guess we do have one today in Pope John Paul II!
He may not have done it in public like this, but he has definitely called some bishops and cardinals "on the carpet."
BTTT on the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, 06-13-05!!
|Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, called Ark of the Covenant for his profound knowledge of Scriptures and Hammer of Heretics for his skill in applying that knowledge in polemics. It is customary in the churches of many Western nations to place the statue of St. Anthony in a special place of honor to be venerated by the faithful on his feast day.
I also bought some other picture that represented St. Anthony that was sold at the door of the church. This one was not by Giotto, but by some unknown author who portrayed the common picture of St. Anthony. It showed a young man with soft skin, pink cheeks, and the mindless and somewhat foolish air of one who does not understand anything. In his arms he is holding a Child Jesus, who appears to not understand what he is doing in the arms of that man. He has the air of someone who says: I am sorry to be here, it probably happened by some mistake. But it seems that we will still have to bear this for a while. In St. Anthonys face, there is nothing that expresses the Doctor of the Church, the man who was considered the greatest expert in Scriptures of his time.
He knew everything in Scriptures and used to quote it by heart; he knew even its most arcane and difficult passages. He was not only able to quote such texts, but used to comment on them and draw concrete consequences from them to smash the heretics and to encourage the faithful.
The militant St. Anthony is the authentic one, depicting the way he lived on earth in his times and the way he is now in Heaven. But today his true moral physiognomy, which the Church presents as a model, has almost completely disappeared. The figure that replaced him is a sentimental one only concerned about giving graces and favors. There is a fundamental difference in the physical figure, but most of all, there is a fundamental difference in the moral figure of St. Anthony.
In addition to being honored with the aforementioned titles Ark of the Covenant and Hammer of the Heretics St. Anthony is also the Patron of the Army. The reason for that is linked to two incidents where, from Heaven, he intervened in a militant way.
The first was when a Spanish fleet was besieging the Muslim city of Oram and facing a long and fruitless siege. In such circumstance, the Spanish Admiral went to a statue of St. Anthony to ask his intercession. He told St. Anthony that he, the Admiral, could do nothing more without some extraordinary help. Then he turned over his insignias of command to the statue and placed his Admirals hat on its head. Then he asked St. Anthony to take command of the siege against Oram and conquer the city.
Soon after this, the Moors suddenly left the city. Some who were captured and interrogated related that they had seen a Friar coming from Heaven with an Admirals hat on his head. He threatened the Moors that he would send fire from Heaven upon them unless they left the city. In face of this peril, the Muslims found it more prudent to leave.
The second incident took place in Rio de Janeiro when it was being attacked by the French Calvinist fleet. The Calvinists had a great advantage over the Brazilian Catholics, who could no longer offer an effective resistance. At that point, the Franciscan Friars took a statue of St. Anthony from their monastery to a central square in Rio and set it on a column.
The common devotion to St. Anthony normally does not mention things like this. He is presented as a sweet, foolish saint who only likes to arrange marriages and enjoy his feast day. This kind of sentimental piety distorted the physiognomy of the great St. Anthony to hide his militancy.
I think that we have the obligation to correct this false piety and help restore the true moral physiognomy of the saints. For it is easy to see that this distortion has been effected not only with St. Anthony, but also with many other saints.
Let us ask St. Anthony to give us the necessary graces to help extirpate this false piety and to become enthusiastic admirers of Catholic militancy, as he was.
Saint Anthony of Padua,
Priest and Doctor of the Church
Madonna with Child, St Anthony of Padua and a Friar
before 1480 -- Tempera on wood
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal as Ferdinand de Bulhoes, he was a Franciscan known for his profound knowledge of theology and for his rhetorical skill. His preachings carried him from the north of Africa to Italy and France. He is known as the Evangelical Doctor because he based all that he said on the texts of the gospels. He died in Padua.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
You have given St. 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 and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3d
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:1-9
After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come. And He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
Oración a San Antonio de Padua
Glorioso San Antonio que por tus
Milagros mereciste tener en tus brazos
Al infante Jesús: intercede de su
Misericordia el favor que
Fervorosament te pido. Tú eres tan
Bondadoso con los pecadores, no te
Fijes en mis faltas. Miro la grandeza y
La gloria del Señor, la salvación de mi
Alma y la necesidad de remediar mis
(Haga su petición)
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