Today, June 13, is the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua.
St. Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195. He joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine at the age of fifteen, and lived at the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra. When some Franciscan Friars established a hermitage dedicated to St. Anthony of Egypt nearby, Fernando was attracted to the new order and was given permission to join them. It was then that he took the name Anthony.
Wanting to preach the Gospel in Africa, St. Anthony set sail for Morocco. In a scene reminiscent of both the prophet Jonah and St. Paul, St. Anthony’s ship was blown off course and ended up in Sicily. Anthony, partly because of his poor health, was assigned to the hermitage of San Paolo in Tuscany.
St. Anthony is famous as an effective preacher, enjoying much success in bringing heretics back to the fold by his preaching in Italy and France.
St. Anthony, even more famously, is the patron saint of lost objects and lost persons. St. Anthony possessed a copy of the Book of Psalms that he valued greatly because it contained his notes and comments that helped him in his teaching his students. This was long before the invention of the printing press, so books were rare and highly valuable. When a young novice decided to leave the hermitage, he stole St. Anthony’s Book of Psalms. After finding it missing, and not knowing what had happened to it, St. Anthony prayed that the book would be restored. The thieving novice did return the book, and returned to the Order, as well!
St. Anthony taught at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France. His teaching and preaching was so effective that even the unlearned could understand him.
St. Anthony died at Padua in 1231, at the age of 36. He was canonized less than a year later by Pope Gregory IX and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
From a sermon by St. Anthony:
“The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: ‘A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches.’ It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.
“But the apostles spoke as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech. Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself! …
“We should speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, to that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendor of the saints and look to upon the triune God.”
The Liturgy of the Hours
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.