St. Anthony of Padua
St. Anthony (1195 – 1231) was born in Portugal and entered the Augustinian monastery of Sao Vicente in Lisbon when he was fifteen. When news of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco reached him, he joined the Franciscans at Coimbra at the age of 25. Illness caused him to leave Morocco, and a storm then drove his ship to Sicily, so that he found himself taking part in the General Chapter of the Franciscans in 1221, where he met Saint Francis of Assisi.
Anthony became a preacher by accident. When a scheduled preacher did not show up for an ordination ceremony at Forli, the Franciscan superior quickly asked the friars in attendance to volunteer. Each excused himself, saying that he was not prepared, until finally, Anthony was asked to give it. When he too, excused himself in a most humble manner, his superior ordered him by virtue of the vow of obedience to give the sermon. Anthony began to speak in a very quiet and reserved manner; but soon the power of the Holy Spirit seized him, and he spoke with such eloquence that everyone was amazed. When St. Francis was informed of the event, he gave Anthony the mission to preach throughout Italy.
Anthony’s missionary work took him to northern Italy and southern France, then a stronghold of the Albigensian heresy. Because of his success in converting heretics, he was called the “Hammer of Heretics” and because of his learning, St. Francis himself appointed him a teacher of theology.
St. Anthony was called the “Wonder Worker” for his many reported miracles. He preached to crowds in the rain, but his audiences remained dry despite the downpour.
Once a man, at whose home Anthony was spending the night, came upon the saint and found him holding in his arms the Child Jesus, unspeakably beautiful and surrounded with heavenly light. For this reason St. Anthony is often depicted holding the Child Jesus.
In 1227 A. D., St. Anthony was elected Minister Provincial of the friars living in northern Italy. Due to his taxing labors and his austere penance, he soon felt his strength so spent that he prepared himself for death. After receiving the last sacraments he kept looking upward with a smile. When he was asked what he saw there, he answered: “I see my Lord.” He breathed forth his soul on June 13, 1231 A. D., at the age of 36.
Anthony was canonized in 1232 and named a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
Patron: Against shipwrecks; against starvation; against starving; American Indians; amputees; animals; asses; barrenness; boatmen; Brazil; diocese of Beaumont, Texas; domestic animals; elderly people; expectant mothers; faith in the Blessed Sacrament; Ferrazzano, Italy; fishermen; harvests; horses; Lisbon, Portugal; lost articles; lower animals; mail; mariners; oppressed people; Padua, Italy; paupers; poor people; Portugal; pregnant women; sailors; seekers of lost articles; shipwrecks; starvation; starving people; sterility; swineherds; Tigua Indians; travel hostesses; travellers; watermen.
Symbols: The Holy Child on a book; lilies; fishes; flask and crucifix, mule; money chest and human heart; heart (symbol of Christian charity); fire (for religious fervor); portrayed holding a book, bread, Infant Jesus and or a lily.