Saturday, June 13, 1998
June 13: Saturday
Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church
First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 19-21
Psalms: Psalms 16: 1-2, 5, 7-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 33-37
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA, PRIEST, RELIGIOUS AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Very few saints are as well-loved as Saint Anthony of Padua. Born in Portugal in the city of Lisbon in 1195 with the Christian name Ferdinand, he was well educated by the Augustinians. Though he had intended to become an Augustinian Friar, the deeply moving experience of seeing the returned bodies of five martyred Franciscan Friars from Morocco prompted him to join the Franciscans where he took the name "Anthony." Eagerly anxious to go to Morocco to be a martyr for his faith, God had different ideas as Anthony became very sick just a few weeks after arriving in Morocco. On his return trip storms at sea forced his ship to Sicily where he returned via land through Italy. While in Italy he endeared himself to the poor, shunning everything he owned in the true Franciscan spirit. In 1221 he took part in the General Chapter of the Franciscans at Portiuncula. There he met the founder Saint Francis of Assisi. Deeply inspired, Anthony was ordained. Though meek and humble, God granted Anthony a powerful talent of preaching which Francis could see and assigned him as a lector to defend the faith against Albigensianism which was spreading. He was sent to northern Italy and southern France, returning to Italy in 1227 where he was assigned to Padua. The fame of his fruits had spread throughout Italy where reports of many miracles and countless conversions were attributed to this simple, but dynamic Franciscan and close friend of Francis, who Francis called his "bishop"...so great was Anthony's knowledge of theology and Sacred Scripture. Many were aware that evenings, after he had spoken to so many about the Divine Son, Jesus would come as a little child to be held in Anthony's arms where Our Lord would encourage the saint and tell him how much He loved this faithful Franciscan. This encouraged Anthony to preach ever more zealously for Jesus and about Jesus. To this day Anthony is always depicted holding the Scriptures in one hand with a lily for purity and the Christ Child in the other. Anthony died at the early age of 36 on June 13, 1231 and church bells rang throughout Italy, in many with no human person ringing the bells. People attributed the bellringers to the angels who had come to earth to ring them as children wailed in the streets crying aloud, "Our dear father, Anthony is dead." But his spirit and on-going miraculous wonders have lived on for nearly eight centuries. He is the patron saint of the poor and oppressed and the one to whom so many pray to when something or someone is lost.