Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria
July 5th is the optional memorial of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria, co-founder of the Barnabites, the religious congregation so called because it was headquartered in St. Barnabas Monastery in Milan. St. Anthony had great devotion to Our Lord crucified. He helped introduce the Forty Hours’ Devotion and initiated the ringing of the church bells on Friday.
Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born at Cremona, Italy, in 1502, of noble parents. When Anthony was only two, his father died. His eighteen-year-old mother was left to bring up her only son in the love of God and tenderness for the poor. As a child, Anthony gave his coat to a poor beggar who was shivering with cold.
He studied philosophy and medicine at the Universities of Pavia and Padua and became a licensed physician at age 22, serving the poor in Cremona. While he was traveling as a doctor, he found abandoned children and taught them about Christianity. He desired to heal souls as well as bodies. Thus, he studied theology, worked as a catechist, and was twenty-six years old when he was ordained a priest.
Those present at the first Mass of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria saw him surrounded with an extraordinary light and a crown of Angels. He himself seemed to be an Angel on earth. By his preaching and example, Cremona was renewed, and then the young apostle went to Milan. To remedy disorders of every kind resulting from the war, he founded the Barnabites. He had a great devotion to Saint Paul and desired that his religious imitate the glorious Apostle. He also established a community of Sisters, called the Angelicals, and a confraternity for fathers of families. He animated all of his followers with his great love for God.
Despite opposition of various kinds, in 1532 the Constitutions of his two communities were approved by Pope Clement VII. Their founder defended his religious with persevering gentleness in all the difficulties they encountered, and recommended to them to spend their free moments in conversation with Jesus crucified. God favored him with exceptional gifts; he read in hearts and saw the future. He died when only 36 years old, in 1539, and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.
Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria Quotes
“That which God commands seems difficult and a burden. The way is rough; you draw back; you have no desire to follow it. Yet do so and you will attain glory.”
“Unfurl your flags for Jesus Crucified is about to send you to proclaim everywhere the vital energy of the Spirit.”
Grant, O Lord, that in the spirit of the Apostle Paul we may pursue the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, for, having learned it, Saint Anthony Zaccaria constantly preached your saving word in the Church. 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.