Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saint Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua
Feast Day: January 17
Doctor of the Church

St. Anthony of Padua was always seen in public squares and market places preaching and defending the truths of the Catholic Faith.  His preachings were simple yet it resounded and touched the hearts of so many that crowds of people including the heretics returned to the Church. For this reason, he is called the “hammer of the Heretics”.

Though most of his work was in Italy, Anthony was born in 1195 at Lisbon, of a noble Portuguese family. His father was a captain in the royal army.  At the age of fifteen he joined the canons regular of St. Augustine where for a period of eight years, he devoted himself to study and prayer.

One day, a group of missionaries on their way to preach the Gospel of Christ to the inhabitants of Morocco passed by their monastery.  These missionaries namely St. Bernard, St. Peter, St. Otho, St. Accursius, and St. Adjutus were massacred by the Moors and became the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order.  When the remains were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was so moved by their martyrdom that he repeatedly begged his superiors to be given the permission to join the Franciscan Order and go to Morocco to evangelize. He was 26 years old when this earnest wish was fulfilled.

On his way to Africa, he was stricken with severe illness and so resigning to the will of God, he boarded a ship back to Portugal.  As the ship was driven out of its course by storm winds, St. Anthony found safety in the harbour at Messina, Sicily. From there, he made his way to Assisi.  St. Anthony was greeted by the Franciscans and remained there for nine months as chaplain to the Friars. When he was not praying, he was serving them by doing the lowliest duties in the convent.

In 1222, a ceremony of ordination attended by a number of Dominicans and Franciscans was held at Forli. The scheduled speaker failed to appear, so the provincial asked if someone else can give a sermon. All declined the invitation, until finally, St. Anthony was asked to give it.  St Anthony so impressed them that he was thereafter constantly invited to evagelize, preach, and teach theology throughout Italy and France. A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went and St Anthony's devotion to the Sacred Scriptures and to Mary were evident in his teachings.

Saint Anthony was only 36 years old when he died. Upon receiving the last sacrament he gazed
up and smiled. When asked what he saw, he answered: "I see my Lord."

The following year after his death, Saint Anthony was canonized  by Pope Gregory IX and was
proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Reflection:

Prayer is St Anthony's expression of his dependence on God.

Saint Anthony earnestly sought God through prayer and diligent study of the Scriptures,
meditating constantly on the Divine. It is this deep relationship with God that made his
heart burn within him to share and proclaim Christ to all people.  By this relationship, St.
Anthony lived more faithfully as Jesus' disciple, evangelizing, reconciling sinners with God
and sharing Jesus love with others.

Another fruit that St Anthony manifested was humility. Humility is accepting ourselves as we
truly are before God and realizing that our confidence and our greatness lies
in Christ.

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