Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Born  1195 Lisbon
Died 13 June 1231(1231-06-13) (aged 36)
Canonized 30 May 1232, Spoleto, Italy by Pope Gregory IX
Feast 13 June

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most famous disciples of St. Francis of Assisi. He was a famous preacher and worker of miracles in his own day, and throughout the eight centuries since his death he has so generously come to the assistance of the faithful who invoke him, that he is known throughout the world.

Franciscan Thaumaturgist, born at Lisbon, 1195; died at Vercelli [actually Arcella --Ed.], 13 June, 1231. He received in baptism the name of Ferdinand.hony of Padua or Anthony of Lisbon, O.F.M., (born Fernando Martins de Bulhões; c. 1195 – 13 June 1231)was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. Though he died in Padua, Italy, he was born to a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, which is where he was raised. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of Scripture, he was declared a saint almost immediately after his death and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

Fernando Martins de Bulhões was born in Lisbon to Martin Vicente de Bulhões and Teresa Pais Taveira. His father was the brother of Pedro Martins de Bulhões, the ancestor of the Bulhão or Bulhões family. His was a very rich family of the nobility who wanted him to become educated, and they arranged for him to be instructed at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, however, he entered the community of Canons Regular of St. Augustine at the Abbey of St. Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon. The Canons were famous for their dedication to scholarly pursuits, and sent the youth to their major center of studies, the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Coimbra. There the young Fernando studied theology and Latin.

After his ordination to the priesthood, Fernando was named guestmaster and placed in charge of hospitality for the abbey. It was in this capacity, in 1219, that he came into contact with five Franciscan friars who were on their way to Morocco to preach the Gospel to the Muslims there. Fernando was strongly attracted to the simple, evangelical lifestyle of the friars, whose order had been founded only eleven years prior. In February of the following year, news arrived that the five Franciscans had been martyred in Morocco, the first to be killed in their new order. Seeing their bodies as they were processed back to Assisi, Fernando meditated on the heroism of these men, and, inspired by their example, obtained permission from church authorities to leave the Augustinian Canons to join the new Franciscan Order.
On the journey to Italy to enter the new order, his ship was driven by a storm onto the coast of Sicily and he landed at Messina. From Sicily he made his way to Assisi and sought admission into a convent of the order in Italy, but met with difficulty on account of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned, out of pure compassion, to the rural hospice of San Paolo near Forlì, Romagna, Italy, a choice made after considering his poor health. There he appears to have lived as a hermit and was put to work in the kitchen. Upon his entry to the Franciscan Order, he took the name Anthony.

One day, on the occasion of an ordination, a great many visiting Dominican friars were present, and there was some misunderstanding over who should preach. The Franciscans naturally expected that one of the Dominicans would occupy the pulpit, for they were renowned for their preaching; the Dominicans, on the other hand, had come unprepared, thinking that a Franciscan would be the homilist. In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, whom he suspected was most qualified, and entreated him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled, and his sermon created a deep impression. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers.
At that point, Anthony was commissioned by Brother Gratian, the local Minister Provincial, to preach the Gospel throughout the area of Lombardy, in northern Italy. In this capacity he came to the attention of the founder of the order, Francis of Assisi. Francis had held a strong distrust of the place of theological studies in the life of his brotherhood, fearing that it might lead to an abandonment of their commitment to a life of real poverty. In Anthony, however, he found a kindred spirit for his vision, who was also able to provide the teaching needed by young members of the order who might seek ordination. He thereby entrusted the pursuit of studies for any of his friars to the care of Brother Anthony. From then on his skills were used to the utmost by the Church. Occasionally he took another post, as a teacher, for instance, at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift.
In 1226, after attending the General Chapter of his order held at Arles, France, and preaching in the French region of Provence, Anthony returned to Italy and served as envoy from the general chapter to Pope Gregory IX. At the Papal court, his preaching was hailed as a "jewel case of the Bible" and he was commissioned to produce his collection of sermons, Sermons for Feast Days (Sermones in Festivitates).
A short time after his entry into the order, Anthony started for Morocco, but, stricken down by a severe illness, which affected him the entire winter, he was compelled to sail for Portugal the following spring, 1221. His ship, however, was overtaken by a violent storm and driven upon the coast of Sicily, where Anthony then remained for some time, till he had regained his health. Having heard meanwhile from the brethren of Messina that a general chapter was to be held at Assisi, 30 May, he journeyed thither, arriving in time to take part in it. The chapter over, Anthony remained entirely unnoticed.
"He said not a word of his studies", writes his earliest biographer, "nor of the services he had performed; his only desire was to follow Jesus Christ and Him crucified". Accordingly, he applied to Father Graziano, Provincial of Cóimbra, for a place where he could live in solitude and penance, and enter more fully into the spirit and discipline of Franciscan life. Father Graziano, being just at that time in need of a priest for the hermitage of Montepaolo (near Forli), sent him thither, that he might celebrate Mass for the lay-brethren.
While Anthony lived retired at Montepaolo it happened, one day, that a number of Franciscan and Dominican friars were sent together to Forli for ordination. Anthony was also present, but simply as companion of the Provincial. When the time for ordination had arrived, it was found that no one had been appointed to preach. The superior turned first to the Dominicans, and asked that one of their number should address a few words to the assembled brethren; but everyone declined, saying he was not prepared. In their emergency they then chose Anthony, whom they thought only able to read the Missal and Breviary, and commanded him to speak whatever the spirit of God might put into his mouth. Anthony, compelled by obedience, spoke at first slowly and timidly, but soon enkindled with fervour, he began to explain the most hidden sense of Holy Scripture with such profound erudition and sublime doctrine that all were struck with astonishment. With that moment began Anthony's public career.
St. Francis, informed of his learning, directed him by the following letter to teach theology to the brethren:
To Brother Anthony, my bishop (i.e. teacher of sacred sciences), Brother Francis sends his greetings. It is my pleasure that thou teach theology to the brethren, provided, however, that as the Rule prescribes, the spirit of prayer and devotion may not be extinguished. Farewell. (1224)
Before undertaking the instruction, Anthony went for some time to Vercelli, to confer with the famous Abbot, Thomas Gallo; thence he taught successively in Bologna and Montpellier in 1224, and later at Toulouse. Nothing whatever is left of his instruction; the primitive documents, as well as the legendary ones, maintain complete silence on this point. Nevertheless, by studying his works, we can form for ourselves a sufficient idea of the character of his doctrine; a doctrine, namely, which, leaving aside all arid speculation, prefers an entirely seraphic character, corresponding to the spirit and ideal of St. Francis.
It was as an orator, however, rather than as professor, that Anthony reaped his richest harvest. He possessed in an eminent degree all the good qualities that characterize an eloquent preacher: a loud and clear voice, a winning countenance, wonderful memory, and profound learning, to which were added from on high the spirit of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles. With the zeal of an apostle he undertook to reform the morality of his time by combating in an especial manner the vices of luxury, avarice, and tyranny. The fruit of his sermons was, therefore, as admirable as his eloquence itself. No less fervent was he in the extinction of heresy, notably that of the Cathares and the Patarines, which infested the centre and north of Italy, and probably also that of the Albigenses in the south of France, though we have no authorized documents to that effect. Among the many miracles St. Anthony wrought in the conversion of heretics; the three most noted recorded by his biographers are the following:
•The first is that of a horse, which, kept fasting for three days, refused the oats placed before him, till he had knelt down and adored the Blessed Sacrament, which St. Anthony held in his hands. Legendary narratives of the fourteenth century say this miracle took place at Toulouse, at Wadding, at Bruges; the real place, however, was Rimini.
•The second most important miracle is that of the poisoned food offered him by some Italian heretics, which he rendered innoxious by the sign of the cross.
•The third miracle worthy of mention is that of the famous sermon to the fishes on the bank of the river Brenta in the neighbourhood of Padua; not at Padua, as is generally supposed.
The zeal with which St. Anthony fought against heresy, and the great and numerous conversions he made rendered him worthy of the glorious title of Malleus hereticorum (Hammer of the Heretics). Though his preaching was always seasoned with the salt of discretion, nevertheless he spoke openly to all, to the rich as to the poor, to the people as well as those in authority. In a synod at Bourges in the presence of many prelates, he reproved the Archbishop, Simon de Sully, so severely, that he induced him to sincere amendment.
After having been Guardian at Le-Puy (1224), we find Anthony in the year 1226, Custos Provincial in the province of Limousin. The most authentic miracles of that period are the following:
•Preaching one night on Holy Thursday in the Church of St. Pierre du Queriox at Limoges, he remembered he had to sing a Lesson of the Divine Office. Interrupting suddenly his discourse, he appeared at the same moment among the friars in choir to sing his Lesson, after which he continued his sermon.
•Another day preaching in the square des creux des Arenes at Limoges, he miraculously preserved his audience from the rain.
•At St. Junien during the sermon, he predicted that by an artifice of the devil the pulpit would break down, but that all should remain safe and sound. And so it occurred; for while he was preaching, the pulpit was overthrown, but no one hurt; not even the saint himself.
•In a monastery of Benedictines, where he had fallen ill, he delivered by means of his tunic one of the monks from great temptations.
•Likewise, by breathing on the face of a novice (whom he had himself received into the order), he confirmed him in his vocation.
•At Brive, where he had founded a convent, he preserved from the rain the maid-servant of a benefactress who was bringing some vegetables to the brethren for their meagre repast.
This is all that is historically certain of the sojourn of St. Anthony in Limousin.
Regarding the celebrated apparition of the Infant Jesus to our saint, French writers maintain it took place in the province of Limousin at the Castle of Chateauneuf-la-Forêt, between Limoges and Eymoutiers, whereas the Italian hagiographers fix the place at Camposanpiero, near Padua. The existing documents, however, do not decide the question. We have more certainty regarding the apparition of St. Francis to St. Anthony at the Provincial Chapter of Arles, whilst the latter was preaching about the mysteries of the Cross.
After the death of St. Francis, 3 October, 1226, Anthony returned to Italy. His way led him through La Provence on which occasion he wrought the following miracle: Fatigued by the journey, he and his companion entered the house of a poor woman, who placed bread and wine before them. She had forgotten, however, to shut off the tap of the wine-barrel, and to add to this misfortune, the Saint's companion broke his glass. Anthony began to pray, and suddenly the glass was made whole, and the barrel filled anew with wine.
Shortly after his return to Italy, Anthony was elected Minister Provincial of Emilia. But in order to devote more time to preaching, he resigned this office at the General Chapter of Assisi, 30 May, 1230, and retired to the Convent of Padua, which he had himself founded. The last Lent he preached was that of 1231; the crowd of people which came from all parts to hear him, frequently numbered 30,000 and more. His last sermons were principally directed against hatred and enmity, and his efforts were crowned with wonderful success. Permanent reconciliations were effected, peace and concord re-established, liberty given to debtors and other prisoners, restitutions made, and enormous scandals repaired; in fact, the priests of Padua were no longer sufficient for the number of penitents, and many of these declared they had been warned by celestial visions, and sent to St. Anthony, to be guided by his counsel. Others after his death said that he appeared to them in their slumbers, admonishing them to go to confession.
At Padua also took place the famous miracle of the amputated foot, which Franciscan writers attribute to St. Anthony. A young man, Leonardo by name, in a fit of anger kicked his own mother. Repentant, he confessed his fault to St. Anthony who said to him: "The foot of him who kicks his mother deserves to be cut off." Leonardo ran home and cut off his foot. Learning of this, St. Anthony took the amputated member of the unfortunate youth and miraculously rejoined it.
Through the exertions of St. Anthony, the Municipality of Padua, 15 March, 1231, passed a law in favour of debtors who could not pay their debts. A copy of this law is still preserved in the museum of Padua. From this, as well as the following occurrence, the civil and religious importance of the Saint's influence in the thirteenth century is easily understood. In 1230, while war raged in Lombardy, St. Anthony betook himself to Verona to solicit from the ferocious Ezzelino the liberty of the Guelph prisoners. An apocryphal legend relates that the tyrant humbled himself before the Saint and granted his request. This is not the case, but what does it matter, even if he failed in his attempt; he nevertheless jeopardized his own life for the sake of those oppressed by tyranny, and thereby showed his love and sympathy for the people. Invited to preach at the funeral of a usurer, he took for his text the words of the Gospel: "Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart." In the course of the sermon he said: "That rich man is dead and buried in hell; but go to his treasures and there you will find his heart." The relatives and friends of the deceased, led by curiosity, followed this injunction, and found the heart, still warm, among the coins. Thus the triumph of St. Anthony's missionary career manifests itself not only in his holiness and his numerous miracles, but also in the popularity and subject matter of his sermons, since he had to fight against the three most obstinate vices of luxury, avarice and tyranny.

Anthony became ill with dropsy and, in 1231, went to the woodland retreat at Camposampiero with two other friars for a respite. There Anthony lived in a cell built for him under the branches of a walnut tree. Anthony died on the way back to Padua on 13 June 1231 at the Poor Clare monastery at Arcella, aged 36.

Immediately after his death he appeared at Vercelli to the Abbot, Thomas Gallo, and his death was also announced to the citizens of Padua by a troop of children, crying: "The holy Father is dead; St. Anthony is dead!" Gregory IX, firmly persuaded of his sanctity by the numerous miracles he had wrought, inscribed him within a year of his death (Pentecost, 30 May, 1232), in the calendar of saints of the Cathedral of Spoleto. In the Bull of canonization he declared he had personally known the saint, and we know that the same pontiff, having heard one of his sermons at Rome, and astonished at his profound knowledge of the Holy Scripture called him: "Ark of the Covenant". That this title is well-founded is also shown by his several works: "Expositio in Psalmos", written at Montpellier, 1224; the "Sermones de tempore", and the "Sermones de Sanctis", written at Padua, 1229-30.
The name of Anthony became celebrated throughout the world, and with it the name of Padua. The inhabitants of that city erected to his memory a magnificent temple, whither his precious relics were transferred in 1263, in presence of St. Bonaventure, Minister General at the time. When the vault in which for thirty years his sacred body had reposed was opened, the flesh was found reduced to dust but the tongue uninjured, fresh, and of a lively red colour. St. Bonaventure, beholding this wonder, took the tongue affectionately in his hands and kissed it, exclaiming: "O Blessed Tongue that always praised the Lord, and made others bless Him, now it is evident what great merit thou hast before God."

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