June 13, 2014

⛪ Saint Anthony of Padua - Evangelical Doctor Hammer of Heretics Professor of Miracles

Saint of the Day : June 13

Saint Anthony of Padua, Pray for us !
 Other Names :
• Antonio da Padova • Evangelical Doctor

 Born :
1195 at Lisbon, Portugal

 Died :
• 13 June 1231 of natural causes
• Buried on the Tuesday following his death in the church 
   of Santa Maria Maggiore, Padua, Italy
• Legend says that all the sick who visited his new grave 
   were healed

 Canonized :
30 May 1232 by Pope Gregory IX at Spoleto, Italy

 Patronage :
• Against barrenness or sterility • Against shipwreck • Against starvation; starving people • 
   American Indians • Amputees • Animals, both wild and domestic • Asses
• Boatmen, mariners, sailors, watermen • Elderly people • Expectant mothers, pregnant  
   women • For faith in the Blessed Sacrament • Fishermen • For harvests • Horses
• Lost articles, seekers of lost articles • Mail • Oppressed people • Paupers, poor people
• Swineherds • Travel hostesses • Travellers • Brazil • Portugal • Tigua Indians

 Representation :
• Infant Jesus (referring to his vision) • Book • Bread • Christ-child in his arms
• Christ-child on a book • Fire in his hand • Fire on his breast • Franciscan habit
• Kneeling mule • Lily

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost and stolen articles, was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher. He’s typically portrayed holding the child Jesus—or a lily—or a book—or all three—in his arms.  Many people give alms to St. Anthony Bread in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony.

St. Anthony of Padua’s life is what every Christian’s life is meant to be; a steady courage to face the ups and downs of life, the call to love and forgive, to be concerned for the needs of others, to deal with crisis great and small, and to have our feet solidly on the ground of total trusting love and dependence on God.

St Anthony is beloved throughout the world and is responsive to all people and all needs.  His intercessory powers before our God are awesome.

Legends about Anthony abound. But let’s turn to the known facts about him.

Anthony was born in 1195 (13 years after St. Francis) in Lisbon, Portugal and given the name of Fernando at Baptism. His parents, Martin and Mary Bulhom, apparently belonged to one of the prominent families of the city.

At the age of 15 he entered the religious order of St. Augustine. Monastery life was hardly peaceful for young Fernando, nor conducive to prayer and study, as his old friends came to visit frequently and engaged in vehement political discussions
After two years he was sent to Coimbra. There he began nine years of intense study, learning the Augustinian theology that he would later combine with the Franciscan vision. Fernando was probably ordained a priest during this time.

The life of the young priest took a crucial turn when the bodies of the first five Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco. They had preached in the mosque in Seville, almost being martyred at the outset, but the sultan allowed them to pass on to Morocco, where, after continuing to preach Christ despite repeated warnings, they were tortured and beheaded. Now, in the presence of the queen and a huge crowd, their remains were carried in solemn procession to Fernando’s monastery.

He was overjoyed and inspired to a momentous decision. He went to the little friary in Coimbra and said, “Brother, I would gladly put on the habit of your Order if you would promise to send me as soon as possible to the land of the Saracens, that I may gain the crown of the holy martyrs.” After some challenges from the prior of the Augustinians, he was allowed to leave that priory and receive the Franciscan habit, taking the name Anthony.

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 was not the gift that was to be asked of him. He became seriously ill, and after several months realized he had to go home.

He never arrived. His ship ran into storms and high winds and was blown east across the Mediterranean. Months later he arrived on the east coast of Sicily. The friars at nearby Messina, though they didn’t know him, welcomed him and began 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 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. 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. 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.  The problem with many preachers in Anthony’s day was that their life-style contrasted sharply with that of the poor people to whom they preached. In our experience, it could be compared to an evangelist arriving in a slum driving a Mercedes, delivering a homily from his car and speeding off to a vacation resort.  Anthony saw that words were obviously not enough. He had to show gospel poverty. People wanted more than self-disciplined, even penitent priests. They wanted genuineness of gospel living. And in Anthony they found it. They were moved by who he was, more than what he said.

Despite his efforts, not everyone listened. Legend has it that one day, faced with deaf ears; Anthony went to the river and preached to the fishes. That, reads the traditional tale, got everyone’s attention.

Anthony traveled tirelessly in both northern Italy and southern France—perhaps 400 trips—choosing to enter the cities where the heretics were strongest. Yet the sermons he has left behind rarely show him taking direct issue with the heretics. As the historian Clasen interprets it, Anthony preferred to present the grandeur of Christianity in positive ways. It was no good to prove people wrong: Anthony wanted to win them to the right, the healthiness of real sorrow and conversion, the wonder of reconciliation with a loving Father.

Public Preacher, Franciscan Teacher :

Anthony’s superior, St. Francis, was cautious about education such as his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians taking pride in their sophisticated knowledge. Still, if the friars had to hit the roads and preach to all sorts of people, they needed a firm grounding in Scripture and theology. So, when he heard the glowing report of Anthony’s debut at the ordinations, Francis wrote in 1224, “;It pleases me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, provided that in such studies they do not destroy the spirit of holy prayer and devotedness, as contained in the Rule.”

Anthony first taught in a friary in Bologna, which became a famous school. The theology book of the time was the Bible. In one extant sermon by the saint, there are at least 183 passages from Scripture. While none of his theological conferences and discussions were written down, we do have two volumes of his sermons: Sunday Sermons and Feastday Sermons. His method included much of allegory and symbolical explanation of Scripture.

Anthony continued to preach as he taught the friars and assumed more responsibility within the Order. In 1226 he was appointed provincial superior of northern Italy, but still found time for contemplative prayer in a small hermitage. Around Easter in 1228 (he was only 33 years old), while in Rome, he met Pope Gregory IX, who had been a faithful friend and adviser of St. Francis. Naturally, the famous preacher was invited to speak. He did it humbly, as always. The response was so great that people later said that it seemed the miracle of Pentecost was repeated.

Padua Enters the Picture :

Padua, Italy is a short distance west of Venice. At the time of Anthony, it was one of the most important cities in the country, with an important university for the study of civil and canon law. Sometimes Anthony left Padua for greater solitude. He went to a place loved by Francis—LaVerna, where Francis received the wounds of Jesus. He also found a grotto near the friary where he could pray in solitude.

In poor health, and still provincial superior of northern Italy, he went to the General Chapter in Rome and asked to be relieved of his duties. But he was later recalled as part of a special commission to discuss certain matters of the Franciscan Rule with the pope.

Back in Padua, he preached his last and most famous Lenten sermons. The crowds were so great—sometimes 30,000—that the churches could not hold them, so he went into the piazzas or the open fields. People waited all night to hear him. He needed a bodyguard to protect him from the people armed with scissors who wanted to snip off a piece of his habit as a relic. After his morning Mass and sermon, he would hear confessions. This sometimes lasted all day—as did his fasting.

The great energy he had expended during the Lent of 1231 left him exhausted. He went to a little town near Padua, but seeing death coming close, he wanted to return to the city that he loved. The journey in a wagon weakened him so much, however, that he had to stop at Arcella. He had to bless Padua from a distance, as Francis had blessed Assisi.

At Arcella, he received the last sacraments, sang and prayed with the friars there. When one of them asked Anthony what he was staring at so intently, he answered, “I see my Lord!” He died in peace a short time after that. He was only 36 and had been a Franciscan but 10 years.

The following year, his friend, Pope Gregory IX, moved by the many miracles that occurred at Anthony’s tomb, declared him a saint.  Anthony was a simple and humble friar who preached the Good News lovingly and with fearless courage. The youth whom his fellow friars thought was uneducated became one of the great preachers and theologians of his day. He was a man of great penance and apostolic zeal. But he was primarily a saint of the people.

(Adapted from St. Anthony: Doctor of the Church by Sophronius Clasen, O.F.M.)
Franciscan Father Leonard Foley (1913-1994) author of Saint of the Day and, many other books, and articles for Catholic Update, Youth Update and St. Anthony Messenger. An expanded version of the above appears in Saint Anthony of Padua: The Story of His Life and Popular Devotions, published by St. Anthony Messenger Press.

Miracles and Traditions of St Anthony

The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.

A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony’s psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. And after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil, brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., proclaims, “The sea obeys and fetters break/And lifeless limbs thou dost restore/While treasures lost are found again/When young or old thine aid implore.”

St. Anthony Bread is a term used for offerings made in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. Sometimes the alms are given for the education of priests. In some places parents also make a gift for the poor after placing a newborn child under the protection of St. Anthony. It is a practice in some churches to bless small loaves of bread on the feast of St. Anthony and give them to those who want them.

Different legends or stories account for the donation of what is called St. Anthony Bread. By at least one account it goes back to 1263, when it is said a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer and promise were rewarded with the boy’s return to life.

Another reason for the practice is traced back to Louise Bouffier, a shopkeeper inToulon,France. A locksmith was prepared to break open her shop door after no key would open it. Bouffier asked the locksmith to try his keys one more time after she prayed and promised to give bread to the poor in honor of St. Anthony if the door would open without force. The door then opened. After others received favors through the intercession of St. Anthony, they joined Louise Bouffier in founding the charity of St. Anthony Bread.

St Anthony and the Child Jesus

St. Anthony has been pictured by artists and sculptors in all kinds of ways. He is depicted with a book in his hands, with a lily or torch. He has been painted preaching to fish, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in front of a mule or preaching in the public square or from a nut tree.

But since the 17th century we most often find the saint shown with the child Jesus in his arm or even with the child standing on a book the saint holds. A story about St. Anthony related in the complete edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints (edited, revised and supplemented by Herbert Anthony Thurston, S.J., and Donald Attwater) projects back into the past a visit of Anthony to the Lord of Chatenauneuf. Anthony was praying far into the night when suddenly the room was filled with light more brilliant than the sun. Jesus then appeared to St. Anthony under the form of a little child. Chatenauneuf, attracted by the brilliant light that filled his house, was drawn to witness the vision but promised to tell no one of it until after St. Anthony’s death.

Some may see a similarity and connection between this story and the story in the life of St. Francis when he reenacted at Greccio the story of Jesus, and the Christ Child became alive in his arms. There are other accounts of appearances of the child Jesus to Francis and some companions.

These stories link Anthony with Francis in a sense of wonder and awe concerning the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. They speak of a fascination with the humility and vulnerability of Christ who emptied himself to become one like us in all things except sin. For Anthony, like Francis, poverty was a way of imitating Jesus who was born in a stable and would have no place to lay his head.

In Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. According to some biographers his statue is sometimes placed in a shrine on the ship’s mast. And the sailors sometimes scold him if he doesn’t respond quickly enough to their prayers.

Not only those who travel the seas but also other travelers and vacationers pray that they may be kept safe because of Anthony’s intercession. Several stories and legends may account for associating the saint with travelers and sailors.

First, there is the very real fact of Anthony’s own travels in preaching the gospel, particularly his journey and mission to preach the gospel in Morocco, a mission cut short by severe illness. But after his recovery and return to Europe, he was a man always on the go, heralding the Good News.

There is also a story of two Franciscan sisters who wished to make a pilgrimage to a shrine of our Lady but did not know the way. A young man is supposed to have volunteered to guide them. Upon their return from the pilgrimage one of the sisters announced that it was her patron saint, Anthony, who had guided them.

Still another story says that in 1647 Father Erastius Villani of Padua was returning by ship to Italy from Amsterdam. The ship with its crew and passengers was caught in a violent storm. All seemed doomed. Father Erastius encouraged everyone to pray to St. Anthony. Then he threw some pieces of cloth that had touched a relic of St. Anthony into the heaving seas. At once, the storm ended, the winds stopped and the sea became calm.

Teacher, Preacher, Doctor of the Scriptures

Among the Franciscans themselves and in the liturgy of his feast, St. Anthony is celebrated as a teacher and preacher extraordinaire. He was the first teacher in the Franciscan Order, given the special approval and blessing of St. Francis to instruct his brother Franciscans. His effectiveness as a preacher calling people back to the faith resulted in the title “Hammer of Heretics.” Just as important were his peacemaking and calls for justice.

In canonizing Anthony in 1232, Pope Gregory IX spoke of him as the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.” That explains why St. Anthony is frequently pictured with a burning light or a book of the Scriptures in his hands. In 1946 Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Universal Church. It is in Anthony“s love of the word of God and his prayerful efforts to understand and apply it to the situations of everyday life that the Church especially wants us to imitate St. Anthony. While noting in the prayer of his feast Anthony’s effectiveness as an intercessor, the Church wants us to learn from Anthony, the teacher, the meaning of true wisdom and what it means to become like Jesus, who humbled and emptied himself for our sakes and went about doing good.

✠ Efficacious Prayer to Saint Anthony

Great Saint Anthony, I congratulate thee on all the prerogatives with which God has favored thee, beyond all His saints. By thy power death is disarmed, and by thy light error is dissipated; they whom malice strives to crush receive by thy assistance that solace so much desired; the lepers, the sick, and the lame obtain complete health by thy power; storms and tempests are appeased at thy command; the captives’ chains are broken by thy authority; through thy care things lost are found; all who invoke thee with confidence are freed from the evils under which they suffer and from the perils which threaten them; in a word, there is no difficulty over which thy power and bounty do not extend. Saint Anthony, powerful intercessor, by all these graces which heaven has given thee I supplicate thee to take paternal care of my soul, my body, of my affairs, and of my whole life, being assured that there is noth* ing in the world that can injure me, so long as I shall be under the safeguard of such a patron and protector. Present my needs and desires to the Father of mercies, to the God of every consolation, that by thy merits He may deign to strengthen me in His service, console me in afflictions, deliver me from evils, or at least give me strength to bear them for my greater sanctification. I ask these graces for myself and for those who are in the same dangers. O perfect imitator of Jesus, who hast received the special privilege of restoring lost things, I ask of you that I may find which has been lost, if such is the will of God, or at least I ask quiet of mind and peace of conscience, the deprivation of which has afflicted me more sensibly than the loss of everything in the world. To these favors add another, which is to keep me faithful in the possession of the true goods, in a word, that no hostile force can make me lose or separate me from my God, to whom be honor and thanksgiving now and forever. Amen. (Five Our Fathers and Hail Marys.)

text from Saint Anthony – The Saint of the Whole World, by Father Thomas F Ward, 1898

✠ Antiphons of Saint Anthony in the Form of Prayer

Almighty and all powerful God! I, the most wretched and unworthy of Your creatures, prostrate before the throne of Your infinite mercy, return You my most humble thanks for all the graces and power it has pleased You to bestow on Your saints, but more especially for those lavished on Your servant Anthony, my dear patron, at whose voice the sick are restored to health, the blind see; the maimed recover their lost limbs; the prisoner his liberty; those in danger at sea are saved from shipwreck; lost friends and things are found; the wretched are consoled; misery of every description relieved; heresy overcome, and even death and hell obey his commands. And this not only in his own city of Padua, but throughout the whole Catholic world.

I, therefore, oh, Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! desire to thank You for all Your mercies and goodness and to beseech of You to hear and grant my petition in this, my present and all my other necessities, through the intercession and merits of Your servant, Anthony.

Dear Saint Anthony, obtain this favor for me by your most powerful prayers. Amen.

✠ Prayer to Find Lost Things

O glorious Saint Anthony, since God has given thee the power of miracles, a power thou hast exercised for more than six centuries, and since He has given thee in particular the power of finding that which has been lost, I come to thee with the confidence of a child to the best of fathers. Grant me, above all, to find the grace of God, if I have had the misfortune to lose it; grant me to find also my former fervor in the service of God and in the practice of virtue; and as a pledge of these graces, so important for my eternal salvation, grant me to find also the things I have lost. Thus, thou shalt make me experience the presence of thy goodness, and thou wilt increase my confidence and my love for thee. (Our Father.)

text from Saint Anthony – The Saint of the Whole World, by Father Thomas F Ward, 1898

✠ Prayer for One who Would Devoutly Honor Saint Anthony

O Saint Anthony, my faithful advocate and protector! I rejoice for thy unspeakable happiness in the contemplation of the Most Holy Trinity, in which the soul possesses all that it could ever desire. I earnestly and humbly beg thee to regard not my sins and ingratitude, but, in thy tender compassion, beg Our Lord Jesus Christ to grant me His grace, without which I can do nothing. With this divine gift I shall be strengthened to overcome my evil desires, to discipline the sensibility of my soul, to resist the temptations of the evil one, and amend my bad habits; it will enable me to advance in the love of God, to fulfill the divine will of God as perfectly as possible, to walk in the way of a true Christian life, to recognize and discern between good and evil counsel, to accept with a joyful heart interior as well as exterior admonitions, and to love and serve my neighbor as the divine will decrees.

I also pray thee, O Saint Anthony, to protect me against the hands of my enemies, to save me from an unprovided death; above all, implore God that I may not be surprised by death and depart this life without the sacraments of holy Church, which Our Lord Jesus Christ has instituted to strengthen and comfort us in that dread hour, and that thou and our blessed Mother may be present at my side; and finally that, through the bitter passion of Our Saviour and thy intercession, I may, with thee and all the saints and elect of God, rejoice and praise Him forever in the heavenly country. Amen..

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