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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Today is the Feast of Blessed Raymond Lull, Martyr 1236-1314

Raymond belonged to the noble Lull family and was born at Palma on the island of Mallorca in 1236. At a very early age he became a page at the royal court; and before he was 30 years old he had been advanced to the position of marshal and high steward to King James of Mallorca.
For several years he followed the lead of other courtiers, serving the world and vanity. But God in His mercy soon led him along a better path. On the feast of St. Francis he heard a bishop portray in vivid terms the contempt of the world and the love of Christ with which the Poverello was imbued. For some time past Raymond had perceived in himself the desire for nobler things than human honors. So he recognized in the bishop's sermon the call of God to forsake all things and to win for Christ the infidels on the northern coast of Africa.

Without hesitation Raymond followed the call. He resigned his offices, left the royal court, and founded a college in which missionaries, particularly those who belonged to the Order of Friars Minor, should receive the necessary training in the languages of northern Africa. He himself joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and for nine years retired to the solitude of Mt. Randa in order to prepare himself by prayer and study. God favored him with much heavenly inspiration and granted him extraordinary knowledge so that, in spite of his numerous undertakings he was able to write admirable things about the most difficult questions in philosophy and theology.

Raymond then made long journeys to Rome, Avignon, Montipellier, Paris, and Vienne, in order to interest the Holy Father and the various potentates in the work of conversion and the founding of seminaries for missionaries.
In 1314, at the age of 79 he himself undertook a missionary expedition to Africa. It was destined to be his last journey. While preaching the Faith of Christ in the public square at Bougie, a group of fanatical Mussulmans seized him and stoned him. He was bleeding from countless wounds and left for dead in the market place. Genoese merchants took him aboard their ship in order to give him burial in his own country. During the voyage Raymond regained consciousness for a time, but when the ship arrived near Mallorca, he breathed his last.

 (Above, Bl. Raymond being stoned.)

A very great concourse of people gathered for his burial in the Franciscan church at Palma in Mallorca where he had joined the Third Order. Soon miracles were reported as occurring at the grave of the glorious martyr. Pope Leo X beatified him, and Mallorca chose him as its special patron.


1. As soon as the eyes of Blessed Raymond were opened by the word of God and interior grace, he perceived that all material things are nothing when compared with the inestimable treasures of the Christian Faith. For 9 years he retired into solitude in order to make a thorough study of the Faith by reading religious books, by meditation and prayer, and he spent his great fortune, and even life itself, in order to bring this precious blessing to others. St. Augustine held the Faith in like regard when he said: "No amount of wealth, no treasure, no honor, no worldly advantage is greater than the Christian Faith." Faith alone teaches us the true value of things; for worldly knowledge is subject to error. Whatever the Christian Faith teaches is infallible truth, for "he believes in the Son of God, who has the testimony of God in himself" (1 John 5:10). This testimony alone indicates the true value of all that is material and eternal. He who judges these things in any other way is eternally deceived. -- Have you valued your Faith accordingly and revered it as a teacher?

2. Consider that the Christian Faith is also the greatest consolation in all our earthly sorrows. Here on earth it often happens, and God's wisdom often arranges it thus, that an honest and God-fearing Christian is visited with great troubles and difficulties and misfortunes, while unbelievers and the godless seem to fare well and everything they undertake seems to succeed. But if you are deeply imbued with the Christian Faith you will recognize in all the sorrow that comes your way the seeds of a rich harvest which awaits you in eternity. Filled with interior consolation, you will then say with the Apostles: "I know whom I have believed, and I am certain that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him, against that day" (2 Tim 1:2). If calumny and persecution come upon you, and it appears that the whole world has conspired against you, but you adhere firmly to the principles of the Christian Faith, you may say confidently: "This is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith (1 John 5:4). -- Thank God for the gift of the Christian Faith. Have you used it well in the time of sorrow?

3. If the Christian Faith is so inestimable a blessing, how concerned should we be to preserve it without stain and to strengthen it! Our Faith is weakened and often lost through association with unbelievers, through the reading of literature that is hostile to the Faith, through conceit and adverse criticism of the truths of our Faith. Be on your guard, therefore, to avoid these snares, and pray often and fervently that God may preserve the Faith in you and permit you to be more and more imbued with it.


O God, who didst adorn Blessed Raymond, Thy martyr, with zeal for the salvation of souls and the spread of the Gospel, grant us, Thy servants, that through his intercession and mediation we may faithfully preserve unto death which we have received in Thy grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Above from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Franciscan "Picnic" - Praising and Loving God!

St. Anthony of Padua Icon

St. Anthony Prayer

St. Anthony Quote

For St. Anthony's Feast Today: Two Sermons by Franciscan Friars

**Due to Blogger's lousy way of letting you list videos from YouTube, I can't put the actual videos on my post.  So you can either click on the link (if it works) or cut and paste the link into your browser.  For those who don't use Blogger or know of it, to post a video you have to put the NAME of the video that the owner used into the video feature to post it - NOT the http address like WordPress does.  So what happens is many times the video you want to post doesn't appear in the list of choices!  It is SO annoying!  So here are the links for these two videos.**

One of the greatest saints in the history of the Church, St. Anthony of Padua was gifted with many extraordinary miracles and supernatural abilities, but Father explains that what made St. Anthony a great saint was his profound love of God. As Franciscans we look to St. Anthony for the desire to love God even to the point of shedding our blood with martyrdom.
Ave Maria! 

Fr. Joachim on the life of St Anthony of Padua and how his great holiness was only slowly made manifest, in God's good time, first by his eloquence in preaching, then by his miracles on earth and finally in heaven as a powerful intercessor for the faithful.
Ave Maria! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Sermon by St Anthony of Padua from Matins, Office of Readings - Divine Office

"Actions speak louder than words"
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 practise 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! For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim the credit for them. The Lord refers to such men and others like them in Jeremiah: So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets that steal my words from each other. I have a quarrel with the prophets, says the Lord, who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, who recount them and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for this people, says the Lord.

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 fulfilment, 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, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendour of the saints and to look upon the triune God.

The saint will blossom like the lily; he will flourish for ever in the presence of our God.
He will be praised by all God’s people; he will flourish for ever in the presence of our God.

Let us pray.
Almighty, ever-living God,
  you gave Saint Anthony of Padua to your people
  as a preacher of great power and a patron in their needs.
Grant that, with his help,
  we may follow a Christian way of life,
  and feel your aid in all our trials.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Today is the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the "Hammer of Heretics" by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, called “Ark of the Covenant” for his profound knowledge of Scriptures and “Hammer of Heretics” for his skill in applying that knowledge in polemics. It is customary in the churches of many Western nations to place the statue of St. Anthony in a special place of honor to be venerated by the faithful on his feast day.

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A close-up of St. Anthony in Giotto's
The Apparition at Arles

Basilica superiore di San Francesco, Assisi
When I visited Assisi in 1950, I admired a picture of the Saint painted by Giotto, which is said to be the image most closely resembling him that exists. It presents a strong man with a thick bull-like neck, a serious expression, an imperious gaze, and a majestic attitude that gives the impression of the Doctor of the Church he was later declared to be. I bought some reproductions of this picture by Giotto.

I also bought some other picture that represented St. Anthony that was sold at the door of the church. This one was not by Giotto, but by some unknown author who portrayed the common picture of St. Anthony. It showed a young man with soft skin, pink cheeks, and the mindless and somewhat foolish air of one who does not understand anything. In his arms he is holding a Child Jesus, who appears to not understand what he is doing in the arms of that man. He has the air of someone who says: “I am sorry to be here, it probably happened by some mistake. But it seems that we will still have to bear this for a while.” In St. Anthony’s face, there is nothing that expresses the Doctor of the Church, the man who was considered the greatest expert in Scriptures of his time.

He knew everything in Scriptures and used to quote it by heart; he knew even its most arcane and difficult passages. He was not only able to quote such texts, but used to comment on them and draw concrete consequences from them to smash the heretics and to encourage the faithful.

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The militant character of St. Anthony has been distorted by soft, sentimental portrayals
He was also an extraordinary polemicist who would debate the heretics – not have ecumenical dialogues with them, let me note in passing – and destroy them by demolishing their arguments. God used to confirm His support for St. Anthony by working miracles while he was preaching. This twofold show of arms: a powerful debate followed by miracles was what earned him the title “Hammer of Heretics.” His life had nothing to do with the insipid and ecumenical St. Anthony presented on the holy cards that so many people have.

The militant St. Anthony is the authentic one, depicting the way he lived on earth in his times and the way he is now in Heaven. But today his true moral physiognomy, which the Church presents as a model, has almost completely disappeared. The figure that replaced him is a sentimental one only concerned about giving graces and favors. There is a fundamental difference in the physical figure, but most of all, there is a fundamental difference in the moral figure of St. Anthony.

In addition to being honored with the aforementioned titles – Ark of the Covenant and Hammer of the Heretics – St. Anthony is also the Patron of the Army. The reason for that is linked to two incidents where, from Heaven, he intervened in a militant way.

The first was when a Spanish fleet was besieging the Muslim city of Oram and facing a long and fruitless siege. In such circumstance, the Spanish Admiral went to a statue of St. Anthony to ask his intercession. He told St. Anthony that he, the Admiral, could do nothing more without some extraordinary help. Then he turned over his insignias of command to the statue and placed his Admiral’s hat on its head. Then he asked St. Anthony to take command of the siege against Oram and conquer the city.

Soon after this, the Moors suddenly left the city. Some who were captured and interrogated related that they had seen a Friar coming from Heaven with an Admiral’s hat on his head. He threatened the Moors that he would send fire from Heaven upon them unless they left the city. In face of this peril, the Muslims found it more prudent to leave.

The second incident took place in Rio de Janeiro when it was being attacked by the French Calvinist fleet. The Calvinists had a great advantage over the Brazilian Catholics, who could no longer offer an effective resistance. At that point, the Franciscan Friars took a statue of St. Anthony from their monastery to a central square in Rio and set it on a column.

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Above, St. Anthony threatening the enemies with heavenly fire

Painting by Benozzo Gozzoli
The simple presence of the statue began to provoke a general enthusiasm for the fight. Very soon a large number of young men entered the army. With this, it was possible to retake lost positions, reorganize the resistance and make an efficacious counter-attack. In a short time, the Calvinists were defeated and left the Brazilian shore. The fact that Brazil did not become a Calvinist country is due in no small part to that marvelous presence of a statue of St. Anthony.

The common devotion to St. Anthony normally does not mention things like this. He is presented as a sweet, foolish saint who only likes to arrange marriages and enjoy his feast day. This kind of sentimental piety distorted the physiognomy of the great St. Anthony to hide his militancy.

I think that we have the obligation to correct this false piety and help restore the true moral physiognomy of the saints. For it is easy to see that this distortion has been effected not only with St. Anthony, but also with many other saints.

Let us ask St. Anthony to give us the necessary graces to help extirpate this false piety and to become enthusiastic admirers of Catholic militancy, as he was.

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Padre Pio Quote

"Jesus, I love you very much; it is useless to repeat it to You. My Love, My Love. Only You! Praise be to You alone." 
- St. Padre Pio

Link to St. Anthony's Sermons Online

Click here - St. Anthony's Sermons

St. Anthony Quote

The Divine Praises

The Poor Clare Colettine community I have discerned with recite the Divine Praises every night before the Divine Office's Compline (Night Prayer).

From a CD called "Hours" by the Seminarians at John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

Relics of St. Anthony

St. Anthony's jawbone and teeth

St. Anthony's tongue

I have seen a picture of St. Anthony's voice box in a reliquary but haven't found a picture of it yet.

For today's feast of Bl. Jolenta

Fr. Elias preaches on the life of Bl. Jolenta of Poland who lived an exemplary life poverty even though a princess. He explains the need to live this virtue, no matter what our state in life.
Ave Maria!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 12th - Today is the Feast of Blessed Jolenta, Poor Clare nun

Bl. Jolenta (Yolande) of Poland

Yolande was the daughter of Bela IV, king of Hungary. Her mother, Mary, was the daughter of the Greek emperor of Constantinople. In the year 1240, when Yolande was scarcely five years old, she arrived at the court of Poland. Her elder sister, Blessed Kinga (Cunigunda), who was married to the duke of Poland, had asked to supervise the child’s education. Under such a mistress, Yolande grew not only in age, but also in virtue and grace before God and men.

When she arrived at young womanhood, Yolande was married to Boleslaus, the duke of Greater Poland. But the young duchess was not enamored of the glory and pleasure of this world. It was a greater pleasure for her to do good in her elevated position. Like a true sovereign, she came to the assistance of the poor and sick, the widows and the orphans. She and her husband built hospitals, convents, and churches, and she was so great an inspiration to him in everything that was good and pleasing to God, that he received the surname of the Pious.

But Boleslaus was soon to receive the reward of his piety in heaven. After his death and after two of her daughters were married, Yolande and her third daughter left all the glamor and riches of the world and withdrew to the convent of the Poor Clares at Sandec, where, devoted to prayer and mortification, she led a life entirely hidden in Christ. Disturbances resulting from war compelled her after a time to move to the convent at Gniezno, which she herself, assisted by her last consort, had founded.

In spite of the reluctance to which her humility prompted her, she was advanced to the position of abbess. So successfully did she guide her sisters by word and by example in the practice of all the religious virtues that the convent flourished like a new garden of God. Even beyond the walls of the cloister she did very much good, so that the fame of the holy abbess spread far and wide.

But, notwithstanding all her fame, she remained entirely devoted to the interior life, as her vocation required. Her favorite devotion was meditation on the sufferings of Christ, during which the Divine Savior once manifested Himself to her under the appearance of the Crucified. He announced to her that He would soon lead her to glory. Attacked by a serious illness, she asked to receive the last sacraments. Then she admonished her spiritual daughters to persevere in fidelity to the holy rule, and departed blessedly in the Lord in 1298.

After her death Yolande appeared in wondrous glory, together with St. Stanislaus the bishop, to the sick abbess and restored her health. Many other miracles occurred at her grave down to our own time. Pope Leo XII, in 1827, approved the veneration given to her.


Parts of the St. Anthony's Basilica - Link to Virtual Tour

The Noviciate Courtyard
Noviciate courtyard, second half of the 15th cent
Only groups who are accompanied by the Basilica's religious or authorised personnel may visit this Courtyard. Exiting the Basilica from the only Sacristy door which opens to the outside, you enter the Noviciate Courtyard, the name of which comes from the fact that the novices' rooms are located along one side. These young candidates for religious life spend a very intense spiritual year in the Community of the Basilica, animating both community life and liturgical celebrations with their presence.

The Noviciate Courtyard, created in the latter half of the fifteenth century in a Gothic style, is amply proportioned; the airiness of the arches, which counterpoints the green of the lawn, and the peaceful atmosphere inspire unforgettable feelings. Added to this a view of the Basilica from the south-east corner that never fails to charm every visitor.

The Magnolia Courtyard (or Chapter Courtyard)
Magnolia courtyard, 1433From the Basilica's south door (or from the Noviciate Courtyard) you can reach the Magnolia Courtyard, so-called because of the "Magnolia grandiflora" which was planted in the centre in 1810. The actual courtyard originates from 1433. Here, as in the other courtyards, there are tombs, monuments, plaques and epigraphs, too much to describe in detail here.

The entrance to the Souvenir Shop is on the south side. It contains religious objects and books. Inside the shop, a glass door opens onto the Offices of the Messenger of St. Anthony and the Pilgrim Reception Area for relations with members of St. Anthony's family. The Information Office, open from April to November, is located on the west side of the courtyard, just before the courtyard exit.

The General's Courtyard
General's courtyard, 1435Exiting the shop or the Magnolia Courtyard you can enter the General's Courtyard (built in 1435, in the Gothic style, work of Cristoforo da Bolzano). It has this name because the accommodations reserved for the General of the Order (as well as other religious authorities), during visits to the Basilica and its religious community, open onto this courtyard. From this courtyard you can enter the prestigious Anthonian library.

To the west of the Courtyard, you can visit the Anthonian Exhibition, an interesting audio-visual presentation of the life of St. Anthony and the continuation of his work today. A stop here compliments the visit to the Basilica..

Blessed Luca Belludi's Courtyard (or the Museum Courtyard)
Blessed Luca Belludi's courtyard, late15th centYou can get here either through the Anthonian Exhibition or the Magnolia Courtyard. This is a majestic Gothic courtyard dating back to the latter half of the fifteenth century. The adjacent rooms are the seats of various organisations: the Institute of Religious Science, the Centre for Anthonian Studies, the Anthonian Museum, containing various works of art of considerable value and the Anthonian Museum of Popular Devotion.

The latter is open to the public, during the summer, and is worth a visit (descriptive brochures are available). It is divided into sections with each area referring to different aspects of the world of devotion and pilgrimage to the Saint.
St. Anthony's Square

Two chapels open onto St. Anthony's Square which, while not well known, are true artistic treasures

The Oratory of St. George

Altichiero da Zevio, Crucifixion, St. George's Chapel, 1378 detail.This chapel was built by Raimondino Lupi di Soragna (Parma) in the latter half of the fourteenth century as a burial chapel for himself and his family who had retired in Padua. It was completed by his relative Bonifacio Lupi. Just like St. James' Chapel in the Basilica, the oratory was completely frescoed by Altichiero da Zevio and his aides. Art lovers must not miss this splendid occasion. The entrance fee is very modest and there are detailed guides available.

To visit, ask one of the guardians, who can be found in the adjacent building which connects St. George's Oratory to the little church on the right, popularly known as the School of the Saint, the 'Scoletta'.

The School of the Saint

Titian, Miracle of the new-born who speaks, Scoletta, 1511, detail.This term originates from Venetian tradition. It refers to the seat of the Arch-confraternity of St. Anthony, which boasts of a centuries long history and which is still an active charitable society.
Nationally it is known for the "Goodness Competition" for schools.

In the fifteenth century the Arch-confraternity ordered the construction of the little church on the ground floor and at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the conference room above it. In this room you can admire sculptures, frescoes and paintings of considerable interest; in particular three frescoes and a sinopia drawing by the young Titian (1511) depicting the Saint's miracles.

The Gattamelata monument
Donatello, Monument to Gattamelata, 1453In the Basilica, in the Chapel of the Most Holy, there is the Tomb of Erasmo da Narni (nicknamed Gattamelata, 1443) Here we can admire the renowned equestrian monument, a bronze masterpiece by Donatello (1453), which uses, for the first time in modern history, the ancient theme of the equestrian monument. Funereal symbols, engraved onto the cenotaph, ensure that the memory of the unyielding leader remains vivid.

Click on this link for a virtual tour of the Basilica:  St. Anthony's Basilica

St. Anthony, the Apostle of Conversion

P. Annigoni, The return of the prodigal son, detail, 1985Saint Anthony is the great apostle of conversion. He disseminates the Word of God as an invitation to change life and to hope for the infinite mercy of God. 
Let us not be unclear. Both for the priest and for the penitent, divine grace is the main character in "repentance" and Christian reconciliation. It is that which incites the preacher to speak of sin, of its gravity, of the necessity to renounce it, asking for forgiveness; in the same way, it is not a man who can take us from death to life. 

That which opens the heart to conversion is the omnipotent, merciful and mysterious love of the Father.

Second premise. We would not expect an element of joy from a temperament like that of our Saint nor from his concept of severe an penitential preaching. And yet, it is present. It can be found where the Thaumaturge exhorts the preacher to bear with resignation and bliss (a perfect form of Franciscan joy!) the difficulties he runs into in practising his ministry. But even in other place, smiles the austere Saint: when thinks of the eternal reward, fixing eyes of faith on heaven; when he says that the Church putting a son in the world in praedicatione vel peccatorum compassione (in preaching or in compassion for sins) is in anguish, but forgets the birth pains once it sees a man born in the world, that is, it overflows with joy and embraces the converted sinner.

Repentance (as a virtue and a sacrament) is the dominant topic in the Sermones of the Doctor evangelicus. It is rare to find a page on which no mention of this topic is made. Even when he is stressing to the preachers the sanctity of life, the constant good example, the expertise of the holy science, or the liberty and energy of words, he does it with one main goal in mind: to help the listener make a sincere, full and long-lasting conversion. The moral-penitential concept is the basic, founding idea of Anthony's doctrine.

Preaching has a preserving effect, a therapeutic action of prevention and maintenance. However, the word "convert!" is aimed, above all, at those who live in sin and bad habits. Anthony writes that every type of sinner, including the arrogant, the jealous, the wrathful, the vainglorious, the stingy, the gluttonous, and the lascivious must be roused from spiritual hibernation with pressing urgency and solicitude because every indulgence has its danger. The messenger of God should not even have time to greet or respond to greetings along his way.

The Saint used the net thrown into the water that catches every kind of fish as a metaphor for preaching. It should cause the death of every type of evil in the world, offer the repentant as a living victim to God and readmit him into the community of the Church. The missionary must work harder in those areas where sin rages and ruins. The Saint says, anticipating Alighieri, that the world is a dark wood, cold and infested with wild beasts, the worst of which are gluttony, lasciviousness, stinginess and theft. In any case, faced with hearts of trachyte or basalt, the missionary must not spread tears nor announce the Word: that would be like throwing pearls to swine! The arrogant and the stingy who, being as ruthless as a press, flatten and squeeze the poor and miserable, they eat their flesh, they grind their bones, they are unconvertible and so should be abandoned to themselves.

Since sins come in many forms, evangelical preaching must also take many forms. There are sinners involved in temporal things, those who have broken their pact with the Lord, those who grant favours, those who have done no good deeds… The Word of life must be directed at each of them, in a well-calibrated way. "And if Jesus falls into sin in one of his members, with words and oration we must lift him up." The compunction that will cause an errant soul to break down in tears comes from preaching no less that from paternal correction and fraternal compassion.

There is no reason to be surprised, says Saint Anthony, that the word of God embitters and upsets, seeing as how it announce that all the temporal things of the present are passing, that mortal life is a paltry thing, that death lies in waiting for everyone ("from which no living man can escape"), that the sufferings of Hell are surprisingly harsh. Words that, taken superficially, are unbearable, but which lead one to repentance.

It is well-known that wicked men want to hear no criticism of their vice. They dislike the preacher and accuse him of using outdated abstractions, of being a relic of the past. Preaching renders stingy men and moneylenders ever more bitter when it proclaims that the rich man was buried in Hell and that it is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, in other words, to enter the kingdom of heaven, and that every worldly splendour and glory will disappear.

All of the articles of faith that we recite in the Credo are of interest, but the one most incisive for conversion is that we calls the mind to Jesus' appearance on Judgement Day and the sentencing to Hell of sinners hardened by evil. Anthony seems to be attached to popular catechesis, quite elementary and rough, but that is the way it is: his experience proves that it is fear that brings deviants in line. What would he say today, upon seeing how certain preachers are careful of avoiding topics which are controversial, upsetting, compromising and which do not garner much popularity with most people, such as the end of the world, death, life after death in glory or castigation?

Father Samuel Doimi, reading through the Sermones methodically, page by page, counted 38 mentions in the Gospel of the fact that conversion must not remain a vague state of undetermined interior anxiety, but must be externalised in concrete deeds. Conversion must not be ephemeral, but long-lasting, and substantiated by perseverance until the end. Not those who begin well, but those who hang on through difficulties and crosses will reach eternal blessedness.

Naturally, the preacher must accompany the converted soul through the main phases of his new life, and not abandon him in the unavoidable period of trials provoked by Evil, by weak and deceitful flesh, and by the world which pesters and fools him. In the garden of God, the fruit-bearing plants do not have take care of themselves alone. They also receive the care of the gardener, who is God with his grace, and they make use of his helpers, the pastors of souls. 

On various occasions Saint Anthony touches on the "answer" of the converted soul. This is within the description of repentance-sacrament, and in its personal form (called, less appropriately, "private"; although, as the rescission from God and the Church is a public act, in the same way repentance involves everyone, through the restored relationship with God and with the Church). In the attitude of Mary Magdalene, who, dismayed in mourning, stations herself next to the empty tomb crying, bowed down, staring, Anthony recounts the fundamental moments:
  • contrition (or pure pain),
  • confession,
  • reparations for the evil done and the good not done.
Elsewhere (first Sunday of Lent) he asks, "What should contrition be like? Listen to the psalmist, 'A contrite spirit is a sacrifice to God; you, oh God, do not disdain a broken and humiliated heart.' Expressed in this short verse are the compunction of a spirit that is tormented by its sins, the reconciliation of the sinner, the universal repentance of his sins, and the persevering humiliation of the repentant. Because the spirit of the penitent, when it is pierced and wounded by pain, is a sacrifice appreciated by God, who makes peace with this sinner, who, in his turn, reconciles with the Lord." 

"Since contrition must be universal, the heart must be contrite. Not only "broken" (tritum), but "pounded, ground" (contritum). Both things are necessary. Broken: the sinner must break his heart with the hammer-strokes of contrition, with the sword of pain he must cut it up, one piece for each mortal sin. Suffering he cries and crying he suffers (dolendo defleat et deflendo doleat). He should feel more pain for a single mortal sin committed than he would feel if he had lost the control of the whole world and of all the things found in it. In truth, as a result of mortal sin he lost the Son of God, which is the most sublime reality, dear and precious to all creatures. His heart must also be ground, because he must suffer contemporaneously for all the sins committed, omitted and forgotten." (11, 65-66).

Contrition must extend to all sins committed, whatever the circumstances, and to all the good left undone. Sin corrupts:
  • the conscience consenting to evil,
  • the person with the sinful act,
  • the reputation with the scandal it gives rise to.
Contrition, alone, releases one from all sins, but for it to be real and operative, it implies confession.

"The sinner who repents and intends to confess is immediately absolved of guilt by the Lord, and his eternal punishment is transformed into a punishment in purgatory. Contrition must be so strong, like that of Mary Magdalene or the good thief, that in case of death it will conduct us straight to heaven. When we confess to a priest, he imposes a temporal punishment, which is a transformation of the punishment of purgatory that we have incurred. Followed with diligence, this will start us on the road to eternal glory. This is how God and the priest release us from and absolve us of our sins." (1, 239).

That which Saint Anthony, too, calls the second life raft after the shipwreck is the explanation of sins made by the priest. According to the sermons, changing the perspectives and the tone of exposition, emphasis can be placed on one or another aspect of confession.

Confession has four enemies that, turned around, become four friends:
  • the love for sin (is detestation),
  • the shame to denounce it (the serene courage to tell the truth),
  • the fear of repentance (the courage to taken on responsibilities and consequences),
  • the desperation to obtain pardon (the faith in divine mercy).
In the meantime, centuries have passed, and the weight of repentance has changed. In Saint Anthony's time, it was very severe, the penalty of retaliation or, in the style of Dante, of making the punishment fit the crime.

Therefore, humility is necessary. If one is not ashamed to cause trouble, why should he blush when his deeds are unmasked, especially since the confessor is gravely bound to silence. Certainly, confessing well requires effort:
  • preparation,
  • accusation,
  • shame...
More positive values also emerge, such as:
  • the hope for a liberating pardon,
  • hatred for evil,
  • force of purpose,
  • the obligation to obey the confessor ...
The Saint twice cites the famous mnemo-technical verse enumerating the circumstances of sins: who, what, where, through whom, to whom, in what way, when. Circumstances which should be applied to the confession of every mortal sin, such as hate, gossip and slander, hypocrisy and falsity, lasciviousness, pride, stinginess and usury, negligence of duties and so on.
Confess well, confess often. At that time, Canon 21 of the 4th Lateran Council (1215) was already in act, prescribing annual confession. Anthony deplored the numerous believers who followed this minimum, "If you drink the poison of sin every day, every day you must accept the antidote of confession." (1, 467) A great expert of consciences was speaking!

He also spent time on the duty of discretio (discretion, discernment, balance) especially on the part the priest. Confession looks like a penitent, but even more it has the traits, the religious atmosphere, the moral sentiment and the style that the priest gives it. Absolution does not work in a mechanical way. Its efficacy also depends on the disposition of the faithful, especially on the seriousness of his resolution.

"Satisfaction" carries less weight today than it did in the Middle Ages. It is the third stage in sacramental repentance. Before the rise of Scholasticism (in the second half of the 13th century) there was a high level of severity in this field. Rigaldi, the author of an ancient legend about Saint Anthony, tells that the Thaumaturge ordered 12 pilgrimages to Rome, on foot, for a converted latro et raptor (brigand and robber).

As we are poor sinners ("he who says he is without sin is a liar": 1st letter of John, 1,10), our earthly state is of incurable fragility, of inexhaustible repentance and incessant confession and conversion, and reparation. It is not enough to repent, it is necessary, within the limits of possibility, to restore the compromised equilibrium, and damage done. Saint Anthony insists on the expiatory power of prayer to God, charity to one's neighbour and fasting.

Satisfaction (called today, simply, but inaccurately, penitence) must be in proportion to the sin, so that the punishment corresponds to the sin with which we have stained ourselves. Certainly, this only has value if it is done in the spirit of faith. Then it is Jesus who immolates himself in us, who repairs together with us, and it is his omnipotent grace that brings back order and harmony where there was the devastating evil deed.

"We, therefore, who call ourselves Christians with the name of Christ, unanimously with devoted minds, pray to the same Son of God, Jesus Christ, and, with insistence, we ask that he allow us to pass from the spirit of contrition to the desert of confession so that we can receive forgiveness for our iniquities and, renewed and purified, we deserve to enjoy the joys of his resurrection and to take our place in the glory of eternal beatitude, with the help of his grace. May he have honour and glory in the centuries. Amen!"

St. Anthony, the Contemplative Man

F. Zurbaran, St. Anthony and the child Jesus, 17th cent. Anthony was in love with Jesus Christ and, like Francis, above all, was enchanted by the mystery of Christmas and the Passion. In the Babe of Bethlehem, Anthony contemplated the Wisdom that becomes a stutterer, the Power that becomes weakness, the Majesty that becomes condescension, the Immense that becomes a child and the King of Angels who lowers himself to a manger.

Christmas, writes the Saint, emphasises "the humility and the poverty of the Lord" (which constitute the characteristic traits of being a "Minor Monk").

The iconography that shows Anthony with Baby Jesus in his arms, underlines the Saint's special devotion to the nativity of the Lord.

Further, contemplation of the cross reveals to him all the love of the Father and the Son and it rips a mournful cry out of him, "While I contemplate in faith my God, my bridegroom, my Jesus take the cross, pierced by nails, watered with bile and vinegar, and crowned with spines, every virtue, every glory, every honour, and every ephemeral excess fades and I consider them to be nothing." This feeling about the cross is truly "Franciscan." The Franciscan Sources underline the spiritual consonance between the soul of Francis and that of Anthony when they tell that the seraphic Father appeared miraculously to the monks at the Chapter of Arles and blessed them while Anthony was speaking to them of the Lord's cross.

For Anthony, prayer is an outburst of love for the Loved One and, speaking of this, he reveals something of his experience with God, "Oh, how great are the ardour of devotion, stupor and exultance in the heart of the believer! He who prays is transformed through divine grace to a completely new state, inaccessible to human forces."

Anthony is also "Franciscan" in his devotion to Mary. When speaking of her, his words become chant and poetry. It is written that Francis "surrounded the Mother of Jesus with an unspeakable love, because she gave us our brother, the Lord of Majesty" and that "he sang particular praises in her honour, he raised up prayers, and offered such and so many affections that the human tongue can not express them."" Two of those beautiful prayers have been passed down to us, "Hail, Lady, sainted Queen..." and "Holy Virgin Mary, there are none similar to you...."

It has been counted that Anthony addresses Mary with about 400 titles in his writings. Some of them are very touching: Poor Mary, Mendicant Virgin, Most Humble Virgin, Pious Mother, Our Queen, Our Lady, Our Mediator...

Anthony is the cantor of Mary's virginity (physical and spiritual), of her divine maternity (basis of every other Marian privilege), of her assumption to heaven in body and soul, of her faith for which, at the moment of general dismay at the death of the Lord, "only in her did the Church remain safe," and of her mediating action between God and man.

Saint Anthony, together with Saint Francis, Saint Bonaventura and the blessed John Duns Scoto, was the initiator of that Marian "gold vein," as Saint Maximilian Kolbe called it, which traverses the history of the Minorite Order.

St. Anthony, a Poor Man

T. Lombardo, The miracle of the miser's heart, 1525Passing from the cloistered environment of the rich Portuguese monasteries to the "vast cloister of the world," Anthony completely embraced the poverty of the Minorites. He experienced the trusting abandon in the hands of Providence when he departed for Africa with only his cassock, without money, in total human uncertainty and total certainty of assistance from the heavenly Father.

(Just a few years later, while Francis was still alive, Pope Honorius III authorised the missionary Minorites in Morocco to use money, to wear the local clothes, to discontinue tonsure and to grow beards!). With poverty as his only wealth, Anthony travelled up Italy as far as Assisi and then retreated in Montepaolo.

Anthony, in his Sermons, becomes the chorister of poverty, "Oh poverty, your delights offer a taste of eternal sweetness to those who love you."

Like Francis, Anthony found cause to love poverty in the fact that Jesus Christ first had been poor. He writes, "In Christ were poverty, obedience and humility... The blessed Virgin, giving birth to the Son of God, wrapped him in the cloth of golden poverty. How fine is the gold of poverty! He who does not possess it, even if he has all the wealth of the world, has nothing... On the earth of poverty, humility and lowliness grows the love of the divine Majesty...."
Like Francis, Anthony wants to live poverty with joy, "There is joy in poverty... True poverty is always happy... Happy and voluntary poverty gives strength...." 

To the love of poverty and the poor, which his Franciscan family transmitted to him, Anthony adds his own fiery defence of the poor (who he calls "the poor of Christ" and "the brothers of poor Christ") against the tyrannical, usurers and rich exploiters. The author of the Life Before Anthony writes, "He saw to the return of anything taken away through usury or with violence. It got to the point that, the price of mortgaged houses and lands was presented to him and, based on his advice, that which had been taken was restored by reimbursing the value or asking for remission." Brother John de la Rochelle, a Minor Monk who died in 1245, attests, "Never in our day had we heard such a sweet consoler of the poor and such a bitter accuser of the powerful."

St. Anthony the Franciscan

Giotto, St. Francis appears in Arles, 1296-1300 The particular Franciscanism of Anthony is a rich field for investigation. He was trained in quite different environments, he had a different (which is not a synonym for adverse) temperament and spiritual outlook for being a satellite of Francis, being to him like the moon is to the sun. Even the first companions entered into the group of "Penitents of Assisi" as adults; but they shared years of life with Francis, they felt his influence, they were able to develop their creativity and charisma, in harmony with their guide, since they participated in the same evangelical adventure.

Keep in mind that there is no "normal type" of Franciscan: one is not a follower of Francis, but of Christ, the only teacher, to whom Francis refers. One can be called a follower of Saint Francis, since he himself has no other guide than the Only Child of God, only Saviour and Redeemer, the only Way-Truth-Life.

Anthony brought with him to his new life as a Minor Monk, his training as an Augustinian Canon, but he quickly assimilated the values of his new family. They were these values to illuminate him and make him understand that God wanted him to take another path. These values, born in the heart of Francis and transmitted to his monks, make Anthony a Franciscan.

The fact that Anthony was foreign, along with his training and his special qualities, brought a providential "contamination" to the emerging Order, almost like a complementary soul. Anthony did not participate in the primitive fraternitas phase. Anthony is part of a minor branch that was international and of the Po, which developed, for the most part, far from Umbria and Francis, and matured in apostolic activity in close connection with the Roman curia, with the preaching monks, with the places of study and with the local churches.

The novelty that these monks introduced was the direct assumption of duties of ecclesiastical reform, guided by Rome, unrelated to Francis and the initial group of his followers for whom evangelical testimony, and nothing else, was worthwhile. For them, the pastoral duties of guidance, teaching, education and training in the church and in society prevailed decidedly over the pure and simple profession of the Gospel among the poor and the excluded, in a life of service and humble subjugation. (Rigon)

Saint Anthony is also important from an iconographic point of view. After 1230, Francis and Anthony were represented in the same way and in the same dimensions. Even in the stained-glass windows in Assisi they are displayed together with the founders of the church, the apostles; the ten apostles accompany the two founders of the Franciscan order; in iconography it is also curious that Anthony often is shown with the cross of the Saviour, like Saint Francis is shown with a book and the cross.

Here, too, significant differences can be seen: Francis represents the impossible dream and the direct encounter with God sine glossa, while Anthony is "he who confronts the concrete needs of a suffering humanity in danger, in clear contrast to Francis, who figures in symbolic episodes where the interlocutor is God." At least from the iconographic reading of the stained-glass windows in Assisi which offer keys to a correct reading of primitive Franciscanism. Where Francis displays the wound of his stigmatised rib and blesses, holding in his hand a book decorated with the cross and the Gospel, Anthony holds an undecorated book with two hands, as if to symbolise culture, science and the world of scholarship.

Beyond this historical revision, what main Franciscan traits can be found in Saint Anthony? Let's take a look at four: poverty, being a missionary, the contemplative and the ecclesiastic dimensions.

The Contacts Between St. Francis and St. Anthony

Donatello, St. Francis, detail, 1447Saint Anthony was a Franciscan. Obviously, because in 1220 he left the Augustinian Order and joined the followers of Francis of Assisi, becoming a "minor monk." Son and disciple of Francis, but broadly speaking, toned down, original.

Anthony is deeply "Franciscan," but he lived his "Franciscanism" with his own particular spiritual sensibility, with his temperament and on the basis of his cultural formation, in addition to the pure and simple testimony of the Gospel.

When did Francis and Anthony meet? What are the differences and the originalities that distinguish them? What are the convergences, the elements in common between the two saints? What kind of Franciscan was Anthony? Is it possible to speak of a direct dependence on Francis and his spirituality
The two saints were contemporaries for six years, from 1220 to 1226, in the order of the Minor Monks. Their personal contacts, as far as we know, were minimal, spread out over three brief meetings.
  1. We know that Saint Anthony participated at the General Chapter of the Mats, celebrated in Assisi in May 1221. It lasted about one week and a varied assembly of 3,000 monks participated in it. Anthony, among the crowd, saw Francis and heard him speak. That is it. We have no evidence of a meeting between the two saints. Given the situation, it would have been impossible. Francis was overburdened with problems, thick and urgent, and he was not in good health. His time was carefully scheduled. Those attending were disorderly. Anthony was only a young novice, unknown by anyone, back from a failed missionary expedition: he was a personality that had yet to emerge. 
  2. The only testimony we have of a second contact between the two is an affectionate note, full of veneration and esteem, that Francis sent to Anthony "his bishop," between the end of 1223 and the beginning of 1224 in Bologna. With this, he authorised him to teach theology to the monks, but asking him to ensure that this did not interfere with prayer. The significance of that note is that Francis invested Anthony with the role of preacher and teacher of theology ex cathedra. It is the historic seal on Anthony's decision and the way in which Anthony embarked on the road of predication. The note also represents the direction which the Franciscan movement would take: to come into line with the pastoral needs required by the historical and the ecclesiastical moment, as their Dominican contemporaries had decided. Another sign of this direction was a change in the style of predication: the modus concionandi, typical of Francis, was completely set aside to return to the development of a traditional religious sermon, which the saint enriched and elaborated upon.
  3. A third "meeting" has Francis as its main actor. He appeared at the Chapter of Arles, in 1224 (the days of the stigmata!), while Anthony was holding a sermon for the monks on the theme of the cross. Only one monk, Monaldo, had a vision, not even Anthony did; the others participated in its presence only indirectly. However, this was still in the context of an assembly, not an intimate, friendly meeting held apart in confidence. The image of the praedicator is the one that most commonly identifies Anthony's presence in the Franciscan Sources. It is interesting to note the reference to an assembly - during a Chapter - of monks convened to be prepared for predication by scholarly men like Anthony.

St. Anthony of Padua - The Saint the World Loves

Pilgrims praying at the tomb of St. Anthony Saint Anthony is the most well-known and loved saint in the world. Millions of pilgrims and faithful, from all round the world, visit his Basilica in Padua every year. There isn't a church in the world which doesn't have an altar, painting, statue, fresco, or niche dedicated to St. Anthony, not to mention the countless little statues and small holy pictures in people's homes.

Many associations in the world have been founded and operate in the name of Saint Anthony, and express his charitable presence. For centuries, millions of people across the world have revealed themselves to be devoted to St. Anthony with a love and veneration which is never diminished or obscured.

Why is this affection, this love, so strong, wide-spread and spontaneous? What is the secret of this affectionate and faithful trust in St. Anthony? What are the characteristics of this special relationship?

The faithful recognise St. Anthony for what he has always does for them. Above all, he is a confidential listener. He is the intercessor of the poor, and enters into a dialogue with whoever needs to share physical or spiritual suffering. Many do not even know where he was born, they know nothing about his life or his teaching, but they have experienced him as a protector and a benefactor in their lives.

St. Anthony is a companion in our daily lives. He is not only a giver of graces and favours to whom we turn when we are in need. He is an older brother, a best friend, always ready and willing to help others, whatever their problems, big or small.

The faithful ask him for light in their existence. They ask him to help those who are lost, to console those who suffer, to assist the poor and forgotten.

They recognise and love him with the lily (the purity and transparency of life), with the baby Jesus (sign of tender and freely-given love), and the book (the Word of God).

The faithful feel that Saint Anthony is an intercessor and benefactor in the name of God. St. Anthony is the face of the caring goodness of God, who reveals Himself, and becomes a concrete and tangible reality. St. Anthony is thought of as a merciful and delicate call to conversion and to penitence.
Trevisan, St. Anthony dying
Love expressed in devotion

As well as personal prayers, devotion to St. Anthony has manifested itself over the centuries in several different ways which are still in use today and which we will briefly examine.

The hand on the Tomb
This is the most characteristic gesture of pilgrims to the Basilica of St. Anthony.

As well as expressing the desire for concrete contact with the Saint, this is a gesture of faith and trust, accompanied by a silent heartfelt prayer.

Attention is focused on the Saint, not so much by means statues or other images which can be found throughout the basilica, but rather by his tomb.

The Tredicina
This term refers to the thirteen days of preparation for the feast of St. Anthony which is on the 13 June. The Tredicina is still celebrated at the Basilica as well as at other shrines dedicated to St. Anthony and in many Franciscan churches and private homes.
This term also signifies a prayer which is articulated in thirteen parts, which like an invocation focuses on the most significant aspects of the life and holiness of Anthony, alternating them with the most common prayers of Christian devotion.

The Transit
Once celebrated with many and varied prayers and chants, the transit is still a striking ceremony. It recalls the last moments of St. Anthony's earthly life: arriving closer to death, he asked to be carried on a carriage driven by oxen from Camposampiero to Padua, where he wanted to die. Having reached Arcella he was forced to stop and there he died serenely, comforted by the vision of Jesus.

He died on Friday 13 June 1231, at dusk. It is for this reason that the friars of the Basilica commemorate the moment of transit every Friday night, with a simple but moving ceremony.

The "Si quaeris"
These are the first words in Latin (translated: If you seek) with which perhaps the most well-known prayer in honour of St. Anthony begins. It is thus sought after by the many faithful who come to the Basilica, and therefore can be found in many pamphlets and prayer books, as well as here. Set to music by famous composers who were organists or choir masters at the Basilica, the text dates back to Fr. Giuliano da Spira who composed it in 1235, as the responsory of the Rhythmic Office (now called the Liturgy of the hours) for the feast of Saint Anthony. It is called responsorial (from the Latin respondère, meaning to answer) in that the soloist proclaims or sings a text, and the choir responds using the same expressions or words of a similar content.

The entrusting of children

Pilgrims in the Basilica during the feast of Saint Anthony Saint Anthony was particularly fond of children. Among his miracles, whilst he was alive, more than one involved children.
It is for this reason that there is the widespread tradition of placing children under his protection right from birth.

From this custom followed the tradition of dressing children in a little Franciscan habit to thank the Saint for his protection and to make it known to other.

Blessing of objects
In the Chapel of Blessings, the faithful love to have their personal objects blessed.

Beyond the inevitable exaggeration, you mustn't underestimate the need for concreteness in popular devotion and the painful experiences that urge many faithful to seek these blessings. Often religious objects are blessed, objects which the faithful want to take home as a long-lasting and visible remembrance of the encounter with grace in the Basilica; or which are to be given to loved ones in order to offer them the protection of the Saint. Sometimes the faithful bring photos of family members who were dramatically stricken by illness or whose lives are falling apart; occasionally they bring an item of clothing, some food or drink to take to someone who is fighting to stay alive.

The motives for these humble gestures of supplication are never completely revealed, not even to the priest. The value of faith is certainly too vibrant and pressing not to induce pilgrims to disregard the numerous forms of frivolity and their normal routine.

The bread of Saint Anthony
In some Franciscan churches or, those which are particularly linked to Saint Anthony, on his feast day (13 June) it is common to bless bread, which is then handed out to the faithful and eaten as a sign of devotion. In some countries it is the faithful who take the initiative.

Such devotion certainly derives from the programme "bread of the poor" which in the past was very common in churches. Today, near the Basilica, Saint Anthony's Charities and the bread of Saint Anthony, two humanitarian organisations, give aid in a material way to the needy.

The accentuated and complex phenomenon of charity which revolves around the Basilica depends on the generosity of pilgrims who leave offerings to help the poor. However this is merely a continuation of the long-standing tradition of giving back to St. Anthony what has been received in the form of graces, assistance and favours granted, much like the mother who, having seen her child cured at the hands of St. Anthony, decided for a certain period of time to offer her child's weight in bread to the monastery so that it could be distributed to mothers in need..

Messages of supplication to Saint Anthony
Many devoted write to Saint Anthony. "When you go to the Tomb of Saint Anthony you will have a lot to say. You cannot say it all as there isn't time. There are lots of people who like you have lots of things to confide to him. You would like however to leave him something of your own, something that can remain there in your place, something for him to remember you by, in order to prolong a dialogue which time and haste interrupt too soon."

Leaving a note, a prayer, a petition or a message for St Anthony is a sign of devotion on the part of the faithful. These are messages which demonstrate a close and spontaneous relationship unrestricted by language or nationality.

At the entrance to the Basilica the faithful can find special cards on which they can write to St. Anthony telling him what is in their hearts. Once written, these card are placed at St. Anthony's tomb. It is a very personal sign which remains there next to St. Anthony almost as if he guards the thoughts of the faithful, prolonging the time spent together, thoughts which they nevertheless carry home with them, after having shared and entrusted them to St. Anthony.

You can also bring a postcard to someone who was unable to come to the Basilica, especially those who are lonely or ill.