The life of Saint Anthony of Padua
St. Anthony of Padua
He is one of the Catholic Church’s popular Saints. He is usually portrayed holding the Child Jesus, or a Lily, or a Bible or a Rosary or all four in his arms. He is a Patron of lost items (among other things).
Birth: Lisbon on 15th August 1195 – Feast of Assumption.
Father: MARTIN OF BOUILLON, descendant of Godfrey of Bouillon, Leader of the First Crusade and First King of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Mother: Theresa Tavesa
Baptism: Baptised on 23rd August, 1195 and given the name FERDINAND.
Dedication to the Blessed virgin Mary:
His mother Dona Teresa by secret vow dedicated him at Baptism to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our saint at the age of five in the presence of his parents also dedicated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In 1210 at the age of 15 Ferdinand entered the Augustinian House of Studies at the Monastery of SAN VINCENTE DA FOR A, (St. Vincent, outside the walls).
In 1212 he asked to be transferred to the Monastery of the HOLY CROSS (SANTA CRUZ) in COIMBRA, then the capital city of Portugal. His reason being he desired a more peaceful and quiet environment away from Family and Friends to concentrate on his chosen vocation.
Here is remained for the next eight years and legend has it that it was during this period that he was ordained as Priest.
The Franciscan Door
“Dearest Brothers, gladly should I take the habit of your Order if you would promise that as soon as I do so you would send me to the land of the Saracens, (the Mohammedans) there to reap the same reward as your holy martyrs and gain a share in their glory”.
When the news of the Arrival of the relics of the five Franciscan Fairs reached Coimbra, there was universal rejoicing. The King, Alphonsue II, accompanied by the Queen, the members of the Court, the ecclesiastical dignitaries and an enormous cortege of people, went out to meet the convoy. The sacred remains were brought to the Church of Santa Cruz, in which it was decided to place them near the royal tombs. The good canons of St. Augustine were, doubtless overjoyed at the honour of having in their church the relics of those same poor Religious, whom but a few months previous they had sheltered within their walls.
Our Saint was overjoyed and inspired to a momentous decision to join the FRANCISCANS.
After some challenges from the prior of the Augustinians, he was allowed to leave that priory and receive the Franciscan habit. The change of habit took place at the Monastery of SANTACRUZ
Canon Ferdinand become Anthony
It was upon entering the hermitage of SAN ANTONIO DE OLIVARES that our SAINT abandoned the name FERDINAND and assumed that of ANTHONY, by which name he has passed into history and by which we shall call him henceforth.
Legend has it that even though the well known custom of taking a new name at reception had not yet been introduced. Our Saint was moved to change his name by the desire to cut himself adrift from all his former associations, to disappear altogether as it were from the life of the world he had hitherto to known, and he selected the name ANTHONY in honour of the Patriarch of the Hermitage of Olivares.
The Journey towards Padua
True to their promise, the Franciscans allowed Anthony to go to Morocco, to be a witness for Christ, and a martyr as well. But, as often happens, the gift he wanted to give is not the gift that was to be asked of him. He became seriously ill, and after several months realised he had to go home.
He never arrived; His ship ran into storms and high winds and was blown east coast of Sicily. The friars at nearby Messina, though they didn’t know him, welcomed him and begun nursing him back to health. Still ailing, he wanted to attend the great Pentecost Chapter of Mats, (So called because the 3,000 friars could not be housed and slept on mats). Francis of Assisi was there, also sick. History does not reveal any meeting between Francis and Anthony.
Since the young man was from ‘out of town’ he received no assignment at the meeting so he asked to go with a provincial superior from Northern Italy. “Instruct me in the Franciscan life,” he asked, not mentioning his prior theological training. Now, like Francis, he had his first choice, a life of seclusion and contemplation in a hermitage near Montepaolo.
Perhaps we would never have heard of Anthony if he hadn’t gone to an ordination of Dominicans and Franciscans in 1222 at Forli. As they gathered for a meal afterward, the provincial suggested that one of the friars give a short sermon. Quite typically, everybody ducked. So Anthony was asked to give ‘just something simple,’ since he presumably had no education.
Anthony too demurred, but finally began to speak in a simple, artless way. Never the less, the fire within him became evident. His knowledge was unmistakable, but his holiness was what really impressed everyone there.
Now he was exposed. His quiet life of prayer and penance at the hermitage was exchanged for that of a public preacher. Francis heard of Anthony’s previously hidden gifts, and Anthony was assigned to preach in Northern Italy. Eventually came PADUA, his beloved city.
On Friday 13th June, 1231, a sudden weakness came upon Anthony at meals with his Brothers outside Padua. He requested he be taken to Padua, but became weaker and therefore he was taken to a Friary at ARCELLA in the suburb of Carpo di Ponte where he died towards sunset.
30th MAY, 1232 at SPOLETE. St. Anthony was proclaimed saint by popular acclaim. Later, however in 1232 citizens of Padua petitioned Pope Gregory IX and after presenting forty seven attested miracles, the Pope convinced of St. Anthony’s sanctity caused his name to be written in the calendar of the church.
Listed below are a few of the many miracles:
Miracles in his life time:
One day, little Ferdinand, as he then was, was praying before the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the Lisbon Cathedral. Suddenly the devil appeared under a most terrifying form obscuring the light in the stained Glass window. St Anthony recognising the devil summoned up courage and with confidence made the sign of the cross on the marble step of the Altar and the devil fled, screaming as if in pain.
On the following day the canons and the faithful were amazed to see the sign of the cross traced by the little finger of Ferdinand deeply engraved in the marble. The sacred sign has ever been the object of popular veneration. It is believed that the Invocatory Blessing of St. Anthony ‘Behold the Cross of the Lord’ stemmed from this source.
At the Monastery, he drove out an evil spirit from a sick monk by throwing his cape on him.
On kneeling in his infirmary to worship, on hearing the consecration bell, the walls parted from him to see and adore the Host.
One a sea journey to Italy, he calmed a violent storm by invoking help from Heaven.
- At Rimini, St. Anthony in his preaching attacked the doctrines of the Cathari (the puritants of the day) who preached that the permanence of marriage was evil and that concubinage was preferable to marriage since it was less permanent. St. Anthony insisted on the indissolubility of marriage. The Cathari therefore left the place in fury and en-masse. St. Anthony suddenly found himself speaking to space. He therefore left the pulpit and went to the river close by and began to preach again. The fishes came in great shoals to the surface of the river and remained in devout posture until St. Anthony finished preaching, blessed them before leaving.
- Again in Rimini, St. Anthony performed a miracle which proved the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
In Rimini was a man called Benonillo, who was very dogmatic in his unbelief in the Blessed Sacrament. Anthony met him and both argued about the presence of Christ under the species of bread.
Benonillo was not convinced and therefore it was agreed that he should starve his mule for 3 days and then bring it to a public square in Rimini. Food would then be provided for the mule and Anthony would bring the Blessed Sacrament. If the mule refused to eat the food and rather adored the Blessed Sacrament, then Benonillo would believe. At the appointed time the mule and the food were brought to the square together with the Blessed Sacrament, the mule ignored the food and bent its knees and remained with head bowed before the Blessed Sacrament. Benonillo became convinced and gave up his heresy.
- It is to be noted that this miracle was duplicated in Bourges, France. This time, Guillard, a Jew believed in the Real Presence and he converted. He then built a church on the spot where he met St. Anthony.
- When St. Anthony’s father was accused in Lisbon of the murder of a man. St. Anthony raised the dead man to life to testify about his father’s innocence.
- Also at Brive in France, St. Anthony by the power given him by God, kept a servant dry in the midst of downpour.
- At Florence, Italy, in the Lent of 1229 St. Anthony preached during the funeral of a famous Userer. And while he was developing the text ‘where they treasure is, there thy heart also’. He suddenly broke off and directed his congregation to go and open the dead man’s treasures. The relatives did so and to their horror, found the heart of the man still palpitating in the centre of the heap of gold. This sobering prodigy did much to bring men to their senses, and helped toward reconciling the contending parties in Florence.
In Padua, a man called Leonard had a quarrel with his mother. He threw her down and kicked her. After this incident, the man went to church and heard Anthony preaching. He was moved with passion and went to confession. At the confession, he told St. Anthony that he had quarreled with his mother. Anthony told him that foot with which he could kick a mother deserved to be cut off. The man understood this literally and went and cut off his foot. The man’s mother came and upbraided Anthony. St. Anthony took the foot and adjusted it to the bleeding leg, made the sign of the cross over it and the bones were knit together, the flesh held and the young man rose up giving thanks to God and the Franciscan wonder-worker.
The most wonderful miracle that God favoured St. Anthony with and by which his image or statue is depicted took place in an old castle in France. Father De Cherance tells the story vividly true: ‘One evening he sought the hospitality of the Lord of Chateau-neauf who in the words of a Limousin chronicler had a particular attachment for him and his Order. Having retired to his room, he would prolong his Prayerful vigil far into the night. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by a supernatural brightness, more brilliant than the sun in splendor, amidst which the Lover of human souls appeared to him, not crowned with thorns and with bleeding temples, but under the form of a little child of marvelous beauty and grace. O the bliss of that hour. It is impossible to describe the emotion that thrilled the frame of Anthony at the sight of his God under an appearance so sweet, the joy that filled his soul as he pressed his heart against that of his Lord and felt its throbbing. The secrets of the great King are too sublime for translation into mortal language, they must be left untold. All that is known is that before ascending to his throne of glory, the Divine child lavished his favoured servant caresses that might have excited the jealousy of Angles, were they capable of feeling envy, caresses only to be understood by those who know the infinite delicacy of Eternal Love.
By a special permission of Providence for the glory of the faithful saint, the Lord of Chateau-neuf attracted by the extraordinary light which filled his house, saw the vision with his own eyes. Anxious to learn what had passed, he asked St. Anthony, who, knowing that his host had been a witness of the high mystery which had taken place in his castle, consented, in so far as it concerned him, to tell him what had passed, conditionally upon his promising not to reveal it during his (Anthony’s) lifetime.
After St. Anthony’s death his friend revealed the secret which he had according to his promise, guarded faithfully, until then and sealed his statement by oath.
Accolades of St. Anthony
By his preaching. St. Anthony converted many souls for Christ. He was a Theologian of high repute and therefore was called ‘Doctor of the church’. Due to his fiery speeches against heretics, he was called ‘Malleus Haeriticorum’. The Hammer of Heretics. On account of the many miracles he performed, he was called the ‘Wonder Worker’. He is also called now as the ‘Saint of the whole world’ because devotion to him has spread over the whole world.
The Miracles after his death:
As happened during his lifetime so did it happen after his death, many miracles took place
- St Anthony was first buried at Arcella but the body was removed to St. Mary’s convent for reburial. After his burial at St. Mary’s convent, his tomb immediately became a shrine. People from every country in Europe came to be cured of their illnesses, maladies of the soul, too, were cured at the tomb. The maim and the sick had but to touch the coffin to be healed, the deaf had their hearing restored, and the lame had the use of their limbs, the tongues of the mute were loosed and gave praise once more to the Lord.
- In 1263 at the second translation of his remains to the High Altar by St. Bonaventure, his tongue was found to be fresh and rosy.
- Heretic Aleardine who defied the position of St. Anthony as a saint was converted when he saw a glass thrown from a considerable height, break a stone while the glass remained whole and unbroken.
St Anthony as Intercessor
The lives of the Saint are a world of their own. There is the peace which is power, and the calmness which is activity.
St. Anthony of Padua, the glorious Franciscan Preacher of Peace, powerful in word and work, gifted with an active untiring spirit of benevolence, which was his most striking characteristic on earth and which seem to distinguished him still among our friends in Heaven.
The preaching of the ‘First Born Son’ of St. Francis has been followed by the signs and wonders of a true evangelist.
Both as a theologian and as a popular preacher he fought vigorously against heresy. His preaching was inspired by the love of God and of Souls and had an extraordinary power of conviction. Pope Pius XII, proclaimed him a doctor of the church and declared that he based his teaching on the texts of the gospel and could justly be called the evangelical doctor.
He died at ARCELLA on 13th June, 1231
His sacred remains were conveyed to the Franciscan Convent in Padua on Tuesday the Seventeenth of June while all Padua was accompanying the sacred body to its chosen resting place in the church of The Blessed Virgin attached to a convent of his Order, the procession became a triumph because of the bursting forth of the Saint’s miraculous gifts, the stream whereof now flowed so abundantly that none of the many afflicted who had recourse to him was sent away without consolation.
It is some nine centuries since St. Anthony beloved of God, walked this earth of ours showering blessings as he passed. Yet he has never departed from the inner vision of the poor, suffering humanity for whom he labored, and he continues to manifest his solicitude for our spiritual and temporal welfare, by securing for us miraculous graces for Soul and body.
Countless number of his clients in every generation attests to his undying powers.
To gain spiritual and temporal favours through St. Anthony, we must pray with lively faith, a firm hope, and above all, with a sincere sorrow for sin.
In praying for temporal benefits, through St. Anthony we should pray with the condition that these be pleasing to God and helpful to the welfare of our immortal Souls.
While therefore, we may confidently expect in the providence of God, that we shall obtain our request we must never lose sight of the fact that St. Anthony’s miraculous powers were but the outward manifestation of his sublime inner union with God. And so while we pray to the tender sympathetic Saint for temporal favours our prayer should be ‘that the will of God be entirely fulfilled in us’.
From the Sermons of St. Anthony of Padua
‘In the world, a battle is waged endless.
In it, we are assaulted by the flesh,
by the spirit of the world, and by the devil.
To remain strong among so many dangers,
one must be armed with holiness.’
‘When a crystal is touched or struck by the rays of
the sun, it gives brilliant sparkles of light.
When the man of faith is touched by the light of
God’s grace, he too must shine with his good words
and deeds, and so bring God’s light to others.’
Credit – St. Anthony of Padua
Life of the Wonder Worker – Isidore O’Brien, OFM
Devotion to Saint Anthony
The GIFT of speech is one of the great differentiating faculties that set man apart from all other orders of creation. The sky is mute in its beauty. The mountains give forth no articulate utterance of the calm and eternal strength they silently convey. The flowers lift our thoughts to Him Whose beauty and purity they dimly shadow; but no tongue within them speaks. Even the most enthralling songsters merely reecho the melodies sung since the beginning of creation; while the brute creature still tells its wants in the same monotonous calls and lowings that have rung for a thousand generations through jungle and mountain pass.
Man has used his tongue to bless and to curse, to soothe and to hurt, to bestow and to deny. It is a critical faculty, in the sense that a great part of man’s salvation hangs directly on it as Saint James noted when he declared, under inspiration, that he who did not offend with his tongue was a perfect man. There have been many tongues on earth worthy of eternal remembrance for the messages they delivered to fellow-mortals. But one tongue alone did God Himself select: to remain alive through the centuries, the symbol of perpetual blessing and pleading and that was the tongue of Saint Anthony of Padua. The mortal frame of Padua’s Saint moldered into dust, but his tongue God preserved as an assurance to us all that Saint Anthony is still our eloquent advocate, our ready helper.
Nor has that symbol been misleading; for in all the casual daily needs of men’s and women’s lives, in all the little trials that the hours count out to us, in all the cares of our workaday activities, Saint Anthony has consistently and successfully interested himself. And simply because he has been man’s constant advocate and helper, man in turn has shown him continual reverence. More homage has developed for this Saint than for any other figure that we can descry on history’s pages. The aim of this chapter is to set forth some of the devotions that are so many bouquets on the shrine of his greatness.
The Miraculous Responsory
One of the first of these devotions is known as the Miraculous Responsory. It was probably composed by Julian of Speyer, a contemporary of the Saint, who died about 1250, and who wrote the ancient liturgical offices for the feasts of Saint Francis, Saint Dominic and Saint Anthony. Each strophe enumerates miracles performed by the Saint. But if Julian of Speyer wrote it, it was Saint Bonaventure who, as Minister General, gave it prominence and publicity. The occasion was the finding of the incorrupt tongue of the Saint.
We have noted that the Basilica of Saint Anthony was completed in 1263. The city fathers and the clergy, major and minor, came to Padua to be present at the translation of the Saint’s relics, and Saint Bonaventure traveled from Rome to preside. When the tomb was opened it was found that the flesh had crumbled to dust but that the tongue was intact, and had the appearance of the tongue of a living man. It was at sight of this that Saint Bonaventure gave utterance first to what is now universally known as the Antiphon of Saint Bonaventure, following which he intoned the Miraculous Responsory. We give both here:
O blessed tongue! that never ceased to praise God, and taught others to bless Him, it is now manifest how precious thou art in His sight!
V. Blessed Anthony, powerful preacher, pray for us.
R. That by thy intercession we may enjoy life eternal.
If then you ask for miracles.
Death, error, all calamities.
The leprosy and demons fly.
And health succeeds infirmities.
The sea obeys and fetters break.
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore.
While treasures lost are found again.
When young and old thine aid implores.
All dangers vanish at thy prayer.
And direst need doth quickly flee.
Let those who know thy power proclaim.
Let Paduans say these are of thee.
The sea obeys and fetters break, etc.
To the Father, Son, all glory be.
And Holy Ghost eternally.
The see obeys and fetters break, etc.
The Responsory gives a list, as we see, of the various evils of the Middle Ages that afflicted and terrified mankind. And since many of the same evils are still with us under the same or different names, this famous invocation is sung on Tuesdays during the devotions in honour of Saint Anthony in Franciscan churches. It is a very widespread and popular form of devotion to the Saint, a consolation to innumerable souls in their troubles, and a sure means of obtaining relief when used with faith and confidence.
credit – St. Anthony of Padua, Saint, Apostle
and wonder worker – Rev. Roger Malony, OFM
TABLE OF DATES
1195 Birth at Lisbon.
1210 Enters Convent of St. Vincent of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine at Lisbon.
1212 Goes to Convent of the Holy Cross at Coimbra.
1220 Enters the Franciscan Order, taking the name of Anthony. In December leaves for
1221 Shipwrecked on coast of Sicily. Later, attends General Chapter at Assisi.
1222 Discourse at Forli. Commences missionary work in Italy.
1223 (circ.) Letter from St. Francis appointing him Lector of sacred Theology.
1224 Goes to France to combat the Albigenses.
1225 Preaches in Toulouse. Appointed Guardian at Puy-en-Velay.
1226 Preaches in Limoges. Appointed Gustos of Limoges.
1227 Returns to Italy for General Chapter after death of St. Francis. Appointed
Provincial of Emilia.
1229 Settles down in Padua.
1231 Retires to Camposampiero. Dies 13th June.
1232 (May 30th) Canonised at Spoleto.
1263 Body exhumed in presence of St. Bonaventure, Minister General. Tongue found
incorrupt. Relics transferred.
1310 Second transfer of the Relics.
1315 Relics definitely placed in the Chapel of the Saint in the Basilica.