St. Anthony is a very complex personality. Elements of reciprocal conflict existed within him. Every man is an enigma, if not an enigma of enigmas, not easily understood in terms of clear and distinct mechanisms.
Even a saint is unfathomable. Admitting that this is an imperfect and approximate analysis, we will try to explore some aspects of this extraordinary man.
His moral qualities emerge from his voice. His voice was highly praised by hagiographers. It was defined as amazing, with a rich range of inflection: quiet and strong, melodious and deep, clear and pleasant. He spoke for hours with sweetness and gentleness, or with a serious, deep tone. His effective oratory skills made use of every bit of persuasion, he was neither insidious nor abstract, nor empty and rowdy. He was deep, but well-fit for any audience, capable of interesting anyone. He obtained the approval of all listeners through his winning arguments. What had the greatest effect however was the active participation with which he spoke and his coherence in practicing what he preached.
The Saint's behaviour, though talented like few others in his day, was deprived of harshness and haughtiness. He was instead sweet and humble. He dressed poorly and was approachable to even the poorest and most ignorant people. His kindness and courtesy to everyone was remarkable, as was his patience and humanity. However, he was naturally effusive in pouring out scared doctrine, that whomever he spoke with, young or old, was struck by the truth of what he was saying. He certainly had a character of steel, but this was measured by a deep humanity. Anthony had led a life deprived of egocentricism. He felt that to give was more rewarding than to receive. He loved and was loved in return.
A writer wrote the following moral profile having gathered information from people who lived with Anthony:
Devoutly charitable, very wise and eloquent, pleasant to talk and converse with, patient despite ill health, benevolent in exhorting, strict in correcting, sweet when welcoming sinners, humble when exercising authority, thankful for benefits received, devoted to prayer, silent in the convent, a frugal eater, wise in meetings, kind to his equals, respectful to his superiors, courteous gentle with his inferiors. A great Saint and a fascinating man!
It is a pity we cannot approach him in person. But there are plenty of saints in our lives, and the God's Church is rich in them.