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Monday, February 4, 2013

A Few Miracles of St. Anthony


Titian, The miracle of the new-born who talks, 1511This woman was saved from death. Another, in Ferrara, was saved from an dreadful suspicion. In fact, the Saint reconciled the wife with the husband, a renowned person among the influential people of the city. And greater still, and indeed a true miracle, he made the baby, who had recently been born a few days earlier, talk; and the infant answered the questions posed by the man of God.

This man was being tortured by a jealous suspicion about his wife, and didn't even want to touch the baby, born a few days earlier, convinced that he was the child of adultery. St. Anthony thus took the baby into his arms and said to him: "I implore you in the name of Jesus Christ, God and Man, born of the Virgin Mary, to clearly tell me, so that everyone can hear, who your father is."
And the child, without mumbling as little ones do, but with a clearly understandable voice as if he were a child of 10 years, fixed his eyes on his parent, because he couldn't move his arms which were wrapped in swaddling clothes, and said: "Here he is, this is my father!" Turning to the man, the Saint added: "Take your son, and love your wife, who has been blameless and who deserves all of your gratitude" (SICCO POLENTONE, Life of St. Anthony, n. 37).


G. Tessari, The miracle of the mule, 1515In the region of Tolosa blessed Anthony, having vehemently argued with a hardened heretic about the redeeming sacrament of the Eucharist, had nearly convinced and attracted him to the Catholic faith, except that, after many arguments in which he tried to back out, he added these words:

"Let's cut the chat and come to the facts. If you, Anthony, can prove with a miracle that in the Eucharist of believers there is, however hidden it may be, the true body of Christ, I will renounce every heresy and submit myself to the Catholic faith".

The Lord's servant replied with great faith: "I trust in my saviour Jesus Christ that, for your conversion and for that of others, thanks to His mercy I will obtain what you ask". The heretic stood up and, asking for silence with a gesture of his hand, said: "I'll keep my beast of burden locked up for three days and I will starve him. After three days, in the presence of other people, I'll let him out and I'll show him some prepared fodder. You, on the other hand will show him what you believe to be the body of Christ. If the starving animal, ignoring the fodder, rushes to adore his God, I will sincerely believe in the faith of the Church". The saint agreed straight away. The heretic then exclaimed: "Listen well, everyone!".

Why delay with many words? The day of the challenge arrived. people arrived from far and wide and filled up the square. Christ's servant, Anthony, was present surrounded by a crowd of faithful. The heretic too, with a number of his accomplices. God's servant entered a nearby chapel, to perform the rites of the Mass with great devotion. Once finished, he exited where the people were waiting, carrying reverently the body of the Lord. The hungry mule was led out of the stall, and shown appetising food.

Finally, asking for silence the man of God said to the animal with great faith: "In the name of virtue and the Creator, who I, although unworthy, am carrying in my hands, I ask you, o beast, and I order to come closer quickly and with humility and to show just veneration, so that the malevolent heretics will learn from this gesture that every creature is subject to the Lord, as held in the hands with priestly dignity on the altar". God's servant had hardly finished speaking, when the animal, ignoring the fodder, knelt down and lowered his head to the floor, thus genuflecting before the living sacrament of the body of Christ.

The faithful were filled with uncontrollable joy, the heretics and non-believers were filled with sadness and humiliation. God was praised and blessed, the Catholic faith was honoured and exalted; heretical depravity was shamed and condemned with everlasting insults. The heretic, renounced the his doctrine in front of all present, and from then on was obedient to the precepts of the holy Church (Benignitas 16,6-17).


P. Annigoni, St. Anthony preaching to the fish, 1981If intellectual men sometimes ignored his preaching, God intervened to show that was worthy of respect, giving signs through dumb animals. In the area near Padua, there was once a group of heretics who criticised and ridiculed his preaching; the Saint went to the edge of a river, looked in the distance, and said to the heretics so that everyone would hear:

"From the moment in which you proved yourselves to be unworthy of the Word of the Lord, look, I turn to the fish, to further confound your disbelief".

And filled with the Lord's spirit, he began to preach to the fish, elaborating on their gifts given by God: how God had created them, how He was responsible for the purity of the water and how much freedom He had given them, and how they were able to eat without working.
The fish began to gather together to listen to this speech, lifting their heads above the water and looking at him attentively, with their mouths open. As long as it pleased the Saint to talk to them, they stayed there listening attentively, as if they could reason. Nor did their leave their place, until they had received his blessing.
He who had made the birds listen to the preaching of the most Holy Father Francis, gathered the fish together to listen to the preaching of his son, Anthony. (Rigaldina 9,24-28).


Titian, The miracle of the re-attached foot, 1511A great miracle was caused by a confession. A man from Padua called Leonardo, once told the man of God that, among his other sins, he'd kicked his mother, and with such violence that she fell heavily to the ground.
The blessed Father Anthony, who strongly detested all wrong-doing, in the fervour of the spirit said deploringly: "the foot which kicks a mother or father, should be cut off straight away".

This simpleton, having misunderstood the sense of this phrase, and out of remorse for his ill deed and the cruel words of the Saint, rushed home and cut off his foot. The news of such a cruel punishment spread through the city, and reached God's servant. He went to the man's house straight away after an apprehensive, devout prayer, joined the cut off foot to the leg, making the sign of the cross.

A miracle! As soon as the Saint had attached the foot to the leg, tracing out the sign of the Crucifix, passing his sacred hands gently over the leg, the foot became attached to the leg so quickly, that the man stood up happily, and began to run and jump, praising God and giving infinite thanks to the blessed Anthony, who had made him sound again in such a miraculous way. (Benignitas 17,36-40).


Trevisan, St. Anthony meeting Ezzelino da RomanoDuring his tyranny, that wicked, arrogant despot, the cruel tyrant Ezzelino da Romano, had massacred an enormous number of men in Verona.
The intrepid father, as soon as he heard of this event, took the risk of meeting him in person, at his residence in the city. 

He reproached him with these words:
"O enemy of God, merciless tyrant, rabid dog, how much longer will you continue to shed the blood of innocent Christians? Look, the Lord's punishment is hanging over you and it is terrible and severe!"
He said many other harsh, vehement expressions to his face. The guards were waiting for Ezzelino, as usual, to give the order to kill him. But something else happened instead, thanks to the Lord.

In fact, the tyrant, struck by the words of the man of God, lost all his ferocity and became gentle as a lamb. Then, hanging his belt around his neck, he prostrated himself before this man of God and humbly confessed his ill doings, giving the assurance that, with his consent, he would repair any wrong doing.

He added: "Fellow soldiers, do not be surprised by this. I am telling you in all honesty, that I have seen a type of divine splendour emanating from the face of this priest, which has frightened me so much, that faced with such a terrifying vision, I had the sensation I was falling straight into hell".

From that day on Ezzelino was always very devoted to the Saint, and for as long as he lived, he restrained from the many atrocities he would have wanted to perpetrate, this according to what the tyrant himself said (Benignitas 17,42-47).

THE VISION - my favorite!

M. Franceschini, St. Anthony with a lily and the baby Jesus, 17th centBlessed Anthony found himself in a city to preach and was put up by a local resident. He gave him a room set apart, so that he could study and contemplate undisturbed. While he prayed by himself, in the room, the landlord continued his bustling about the house.
While he was devotedly observing the room in which St. Anthony had immersed himself in prayer, peeping through the window, he saw a beautiful joyful baby appear in blessed Anthony's arms. The Saint hugged and kissed him, contemplating the face with unceasing attention. The landlord, awed and enraptured by the child's beauty, began to think of where such a graceful child might have come from.

That baby was the Lord Jesus. He revealed to the blessed Anthony that his host was watching. After a long time spent in prayer, the vision disappeared; the Saint called the landlord, and he forbade him from telling anyone whilst Anthony was still alive what he had seen. After the Saint passed away, the man told the tale crying, swearing on the Bible that he was telling the truth (Liber miraculorum 22,1-8).


Titian, The miracle of the usurer, 1511
In Tuscany, the great region of Italy, the funereal rites of a very rich man were being celebrated with great solemnity as was common in these cases. At the funeral St. Anthony was present and, moved by a sudden inspiration, began shouting that this man should not be buried in a sacred place, but outside the city walls, like a dog.

And this was because his soul was damned to hell, and the corpse was without a heart, according to the saying of the Lord, reported by Saint Luke the Evangelist: Where your treasure is, there also is your heart.

Everyone was naturally shaken at this statement, and there was a long and heated exchange of opinions. Some surgeons were called who opened the deceased's chest. But they could not find his heart which, as the Saint predicted, was discovered in his safe with his money.

For this reason, the citizens praised the Lord and the Saint. The dead man was not buried in the prepared mausoleum, but dragged like a mule along the embankment and then buried there. (SICCO POLENTONE, Life of St. Anthony,n. 35).


G. Campagna, St. Anthony brings a young boy back to life, 1577In the city of Lisbon, of which St. Anthony was a native, whilst his relatives were still living, that is to say his father, his mother and his brothers, two citizens were enemies and they hated each other to death. It so happened that the son of one of them, a young boy, encountered the enemy of the family, who lived near blessed Anthony's parents.

This merciless man grabbed the boy, took him home and killed him without further ado. Then, in the deep of the night, having entered into the garden of the Saint's parents, he dug a ditch, buried the body and fled.

As the young boy was the son of a well known family, there was an inquest into his disappearance, and it was ascertained that the young boy had travelled through the enemy's part of town. The home and garden were therefore searched, but no clues were found. While carrying out an inspection of the garden of blessed Anthony's relatives, the boy was found, buried in the garden. For this reason, the king's executioner arrested Anthony's father and everyone else in the house, for the assassination of the boy.

Blessed Anthony, even though he was in Padua, came to know this fact through divine inspiration. That night, having obtained permission, he left the convent. While he walked during the night, he was transported miraculously to the city of Lisbon. Upon entering the city in the morning, he went to the executioner, and began to plead with him to acquit these innocent people of the accusation and set them free. But, as the man had no intention of doing such a thing, blessed Anthony ordered that the assassinated boy brought to him.

Once the body was placed before him, he ordered the boy to rise up and say whether his relatives had killed him. The boy awoke from death and affirmed that blessed Anthony's relatives were not involved. As a result, they were exonerated and released from prison. Blessed Anthony stayed with them all day. Then, in the evening, he left Lisbon and the following morning he found himself in Padua (Bartolomeo da Pisa 4,19-32).


These are the miracles befitting a travelling preacher, they reveal the burning desire to save souls. He exists exclusively as a living mediator between Christ and the children of God dispersed throughout history, he is a trait d'union between the Redeemer and the redeemed.

The Christians of his day, both in Italy and in France, were believers who were only very crudely introduced into the faith in terms of understanding its doctrine and ethics. Theirs was a traditional religion, which needs to be renewed and deepened in its terms of revelation, defending it against the snares of heresy and prevailing vices. This is the reason for the miracles which support the Christ's true presence in the Eucharist (miracle of the mule), or which underline the authority of his teaching, (for example: the poisoned food, preaching to the fish), or which renew his battle against usury (the macabre tale of the heartless usurer).

On other occasions we see St. Anthony concerned with providing relief to the material suffering of the people, and blocking the way to hateful abuse at the hands of governments (for example: the stormy meeting with Ezzelino, the tale of the twelve thieves, the pious woman of Provence). Notable artists have been inspired by other miraculous events, the new born who speaks, the jealous husband, the reattached foot, which portray Anthony as the defender of family harmony. The importance of the Sacrament of Confession is emphasised, and many miracles are linked to this theme, forming part of the Anthonian saga.

Although he abandoned his family of birth and he left the Augustinian Order, he was a loving son and brother, close to both his family and friends (transferred from Padua to Lisbon, his apparition to Abbot Thomas). Deeper still was his attachment to his minor confreres. He took on the burden of their troubles, he helped avoid possible disorder in the monastery and cloistered life, foiled diabolical turbulence which put meditation at risk, and took care of the nutritional needs of his monastery etc. (for example: the young Noviciate of Limoges, the diabolical phantasmagoria, bilocation in Montpellier, the maid who went to gather vegetables under the rain).

Thus, these episodes help to reconstruct the historical figure of Saint Anthony, they disclose his moral constitution, his feelings of evangelical solidarity, the worries of a teacher of the faith and a guarantor of the authenticity of consecrated life. The most touching miracle however, which analyses in depth the Saint's soul, is the apparition of the Baby Jesus. Saint Anthony glows here in ecstasy, absorbed in divine intimacy, by deep and sweetly emotional faith, with transports of joy and the features of someone who is deeply in love.

It is common to say that medical specialists at Lourdes, "declare" the truth of a certain miracle. This expression is not exact, and we need to be careful. The declaring of miracles does not form part of a doctor's job. His task is to declare that a recovery, according to the current state of medical research, is inexplicable. It is possible that in the future, medical science will be able to solve the mystery.

In so far as a miracle is concerned, only a believer can discern it, in a aura of faith. This is another very different type of knowledge, beyond experimental science. We must cultivate an attitude of adoring silence, which enable us to be transparent to that interior light, thanks to which we can discern a divine presence: "You have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and have revealed them to infants" (Lk 10,21).

St. Anthony continues to give two types of grace. Above all, through the clear signs of Providence, St. Anthony directs the religious thought of many people towards Christ, he supports wavering faith during the ups and downs of life, guiding us towards the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, surprising whoever is distant or disinterested in God with the interior fascination of conversion. For many Christians, St Anthony represents perhaps the only concrete point of reference, which can foster and develop a relationship with God in the midst of the turmoil of life.

Secondly, St. Anthony extends God's heart into the world, giving faith and hope. Family or work problems, the straying of children or illnesses: there are many occasions in life when men feel powerless. The Saint, so attentive in life to the needs of the family, continues to be God's concrete and favoured mediator in the Church.

"We children must ask our God for something. Everything that exists in this is nothing, compared to our love for God. We must therefore ask to love God, sustaining Him in His weakest and sickest members, feeding Him in the poor and needy. If we ask for Love, then, the same Father, who is Love, will give us what He is: Love!" (From the Sermones, vol. I, pp. 333-334).

(above from

13 Day Novena to St. Anthony

Dear brothers and sisters, let us present our petitions to Jesus, so that through Saint Anthony's intercession, He may pour out His mercy on us.
1. O Lord, you have made Saint Anthony an apostle of the Gospel. Grant us, through his intercession, a strong and humble faith and make our lives coherent with the creed that we profess.

Glory be to the Father…

2. O God Almighty, you have made Saint Anthony a constructor of peace and fraternal charity. Look upon the victims of violence and war. Grant that in this confused world full of tensions, we may become courageous witnesses of non-violence, promoting human life and peace.

Glory be to the Father…

3. O God, you have granted Saint Anthony the gift of healing and performing miracles. Grant us health of soul and body. Grant serenity and solace to those who have asked for our prayers and make us always ready to serve the sick, the elderly and the distressed.

Glory be to the Father…

4. O Lord, you made Saint Anthony an untiring preacher of the Gospels along mankind's many paths. In your Fatherly mercy protect the homeless, refugees and emigrants; keep them safe from every danger and guide their steps along the path of peace.

Glory be to the Father…

5. O God Almighty, you granted Saint Anthony the power to reunite severed limbs. Reunite all Christians in your One and Holy Church, and grant that we may all live the mystery of unity, thus becoming one heart and one soul.

Glory be to the Father…

6. O Lord Jesus, you made Saint Anthony a great master of spiritual life. Grant us the ability to renew our lives according to the teachings of the Gospel and the beatitudes, and make us promoters of spiritual life for our brothers and sisters.

Glory be to the Father…

7. O Jesus, you granted Saint Anthony the incomparable grace of holding you as a child in his arms. Bless our children, and grant that they may grow in goodness and in health and that they may live their lives in the fear of God.

Glory be to the Father…

8. O Merciful Jesus, you granted Saint Anthony the wisdom and gifts necessary to guide souls to holiness through his preaching and priestly ministry. Grant that we may approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the great gift of your love, with humility and faith.

Glory be to the Father…

9. O Holy Spirit, in Saint Anthony you gave the Church and the world a great master of holy doctrine. Grant that all those who work in the sphere of information may feel the great responsibility they have and serve truth in charity and with respect for others.

Glory be to the Father…

10. O Lord, you are the Lord of the harvest. Through the intercession of Saint Anthony send many worthy religious and priests into your field, fill them with zeal, generosity and your love.

Glory be to the Father…

11. O Jesus, you called the pope to be a universal pastor, high priest and messenger of truth and peace. Through the intercession of Saint Anthony sustain and console him in his mission.

Glory be to the Father…

12. O Holy Trinity, you granted Saint Anthony the grace to know, to love and to glorify the Virgin Mary, your Blessed Mother, and our Heavenly Mother, grant that we may grow ever closer to her motherly heart, to better serve, love and glorify you, who are love itself.

Glory be to the Father…

13. O Lord, you allowed Saint Anthony to meet sister death with a serene soul. Direct our lives towards you, assist the dying and grant eternal peace to the souls of our departed brothers and sisters.

Glory be to the Father…