13th June is the feast of our patron, St. Anthony of Padua.
Saint Anthony of Padua
June 13 Birth: 1195 Death: 1231 Canonized By: Pope Gregory IX in 1232
Saint Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal. He was born into a wealthy family and by the age of fifteen asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, the then capital of Portugal. During his time in the Abbey, he learned theology and Latin.
Following his ordination to the priesthood, he was named guest master and was responsible for the abbey’s hospitality. When Franciscan friars settled a small hermitage outside Coimbra dedicated to Saint Anthony of Egypt, Fernando felt a longing to join them. Fernando eventually received permission to leave the Abbey so he could join the new Franciscan Order. When he was admitted, he changed his name to Anthony.
Anthony then traveled to Morocco to spread God’s truth but became extremely sick and was returned to Portugal to recover. The return voyage was blown off-course and the party arrived in Sicily, from which they traveled to Tuscany. Anthony was assigned to the hermitage of San Paolo after local friars considered his health.
As he recovered, Anthony spent his time praying and studying. An undetermined amount of time later, Dominican friars came to visit the Franciscans and there was confusion over who would present the homily. The Dominicans were known for their preaching, thus the Franciscans assumed it was they who would provide a homilist, but the Dominicans assumed the Franciscans would provide one. It was then the head of the Franciscan hermitage asked Anthony to speak on whatever the Holy Spirit told him to speak of.
Though he tried to object, Anthony delivered an eloquent and moving homily that impressed both groups. Soon, news of his eloquence reached Francis of Assisi, who held a strong distrust of the brotherhood’s commitment to a life of poverty. However, in Anthony, he found a friend. In 1224, Francis entrusted his friars’ pursuits of studies to Anthony. Anthony had a book of psalms that contained notes and comments to help when teaching students and, in a time when a printing press was not yet invented, he greatly valued it. When a novice decided to leave the hermitage, he stole Anthony’s valuable book. When Anthony discovered it was missing, he prayed it would be found or returned to him. The thief did return the book and in an extra step returned to the Order as well.
The book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna today. Anthony occasionally taught at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but he performed best in the role of a preacher. So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith, most unlettered and the innocent could understand his messages. It is for this reason he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Once, when St. Anthony of Padua attempted to preach the true Gospel of the Catholic Church to heretics who would not listen to him, he went out and preached his message to the fish. This was not, as liberals and naturalists have tried to say, for the instruction of the fish, but rather for the glory of God, the delight of the angels, and the easing of his own heart. When critics saw the fish begin to gather, they realized they should also listen to what Anthony had to say.
He was only 36 years old when he died and was canonized less than one year afterward by Pope Gregory IX. Upon exhumation some 336 years after his death, his body was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, so perfect were the teachings that had been formed upon it.
He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus and is commonly referred to today as the “finder of lost articles.”
Catholic Prayers: Novena to Saint Anthony of Padua
Most lovable St. Anthony, we honour you as God’s servant for your fidelity and perseverance in his service. May we always be assisted by your merits and intercession in following your example. Amen.
V. O God, come to my assistance;
R. Make haste, Lord to help me. St. Anthony, great wonder-worker, God has honoured you abundantly by granting many miracles through your intercession. In your goodness, kindly come to my aid now, and hear my request. Amen.
V. Hear me, O God, and have pity on me;
R. O Lord, be my helper.
Lovable St. Anthony, I come to you with complete confidence in your favour before God, who heeds your pleas for those in need. Forget me not in your place of heavenly glory, and intercede for me. Amen.
V. Be not far from me, O Lord;
R. Awake, and be vigilant, O God, in my defence. Glorious St. Anthony, I acknowledge my weakness and my many sins against the Almighty. Despite my unworthiness, please assist me in my pressing necessity. In your kindness, plead my cause. Amen
V. Make your ways known to me, O Lord;
R. Teach me your paths. Zealous St. Anthony, help me now to appreciate God’s purpose in my life, and be my patron in granting my intention. You will, I am sure, beg God’s mercy for me in my difficulties. Amen.
V. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
R. Lord, hear my voice.
Most chaste St. Anthony, by your love for Christ and His Church I implore your aid in my anxiety, and ask your prompt response. You show the power of God’s saints by your ready aid to His people. Amen.
V. My help is in the name of the Lord;
R. Who made heaven and earth. Most humble St. Anthony, your dedication to poverty has enriched the Church with countless favours and blessings. I beg your assistance in my behalf so I may be enriched by honouring your example. Amen.
V. All that the Lord wills He does;
R. In heaven and on earth. O good St. Anthony, you comfort those like me who sorrow. Be with me as I give solace to others in imitation of you. Forget not my need in my difficulty, and entreat our God for me. Amen.
O God, may it always be a source of joy to your Church that we honour the memory of St. Anthony, your Confessor and Doctor. May his spiritual help make us strong, and his assistance help us gain an everlasting reward. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.