Anthony Padua (1195 –1231)

Feast Day: June 13

Anthony was born in 1195 near Lisbon in Portugal as heir to a noble title and lands. Anthony's future seemed secure and planned out. But he started his restless quest for God early, giving up his inheritance to enter an Augustinian monastery at age 15, seeking a life of solitude and devotion.

One day he met a group of Franciscans who were visiting the monastery on their way to Morocco. Anthony was greatly impressed by these courageous missionaries and was even more impressed when he heard that they had been martyred. It was then that he decided to become a missionary and a martyr. He left the Augustinians to join the Franciscan Order. He received permission to go to Morocco as a missionary, but was forced by illness to return home. He was stationed in a small hermitage in Italy, where he prayed, studied, and performed menial duties.

One day, the preacher at an ordination ceremony failed to appear. No one else was prepared to speak, and the duty was given to Anthony. Those gathered where astonished by Anthony's knowledge of scripture and theology and his skill as a speaker. He was soon appointed as a travelling preacher. In years to come, he travelled throughout Italy and France. A major aspect of his preaching was to combat the heresies of the day. He also criticized weakness and corruption in the clergy and greed and tyranny in society. Anthony also became the first friar to teach theology to the other friars.

During Lent in 1231, Anthony was preaching in Padua. After Easter, Anthony set out with two companions for a friend's estate near the city. On the way, they made Anthony a cell in a walnut tree by binding the branches together. Later that spring he died, on the way back to Padua.

'Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and sent in a new and unexpected direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one's life completely over to Christ. God did with Anthony as he pleased — and what he pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects found himself by losing himself totally to the providence of God.'

'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.

We should speak then, as the Holy Spirit give us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we might bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner 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 so our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendour of the saints and to look upon the triune God.' From a sermon by St. Anthony of Padua.

Anthony is often shown with the Christ Child because of a legend that took place in a monastery where he stayed overnight. When his host peeped into Anthony's room to see the saint at prayer, he saw that Anthony was not alone. The Christ Child stood on a table before Anthony, holding him.

Prayer:

Saint Anthony of Padua, you endured much discouragement in your life before finding your calling. Help us to find patience in our own lives and trust God to lead us where weneed to go. You preached by example, help us show others through example the truth of our Faith. Amen

Many people will remember praying to Anthony for the retrieval of lost things. No one is sure how this association started but one story involves the Commentary on the Psalms that Anthony had written. One day Anthony found both the Commentary and a novice missing from the monastery. The novice had evidently run away and taken this souvenir with him. Anthony prayed for the return of both. Soon guilt overtook the running novice, and he came back, not only to return the manuscript but return to religious life.

Anthony is also the patron saint of the poor and of women whocan't conceive.

Anthony preached peace in a time of feuds, vendettas, and wars, saying, "No more war; no more hatred and bloodshed, but peace. God wills it."

Jonitha, Year 9
St. Michael's Convent School,
Barnet, London.