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Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - Anthonian symbols

Iconography of St Anthony includes a series of symbols: youth, the habit, a book, the baby Jesus, the lily, a flame, a heart, bread. These express either a characteristic of his personality (memory functions), or the gifts and qualities which popular devotion have attributed to him (symbolic function).

The most widely diffused image is of Anthony as a young religious, with the Christ child in his arms and a lily in his hand.

Anonymus, St. Anthony reads the Word of God, 17th cent.

Youth is connected to the ideal image of him as, pure, good, receptive to everyone.

S. Vecchiato, St. Antony with a poor man - The Gospel and Charity, detail.,1997

The Franciscan habit (brown or black) is reminiscent of the Franciscan Order, but with some particular characteristics. Some people think - wrongly - that he created his own order and they have problems connecting him to St. Francis.

A. Van Dyck, Mary with the baby Jesus appearing to St. Anthony, 17th cent.

The baby Jesus is reminiscent of the vision that Anthony had in Camposampiero.

It also expresses his attachment to the humanity of Christ and his closeness to God.

: V. Carpaccio, St. Anthony with book and lily, detail of altar-piece of Madonna and Child among Saints, 1518

The Lily represents his purity and his battle against the demon since childhood.

Giovanni da Spoleto, nicknamed lo Spagna, St. Anthony with book and flame, 16th cent.

The flame indicates his love for God and his neighbour.
Many votive offerings are heart-shaped, and the reliquary for the voice box (larynx), found intact at the last recognition, has been made in the shape of a flame.

W. Van Herp the elder, St. Anthony distributes bread, 19th cent.

Bread is reminiscent of his charity to the poor. This image is connected with the charity "St. Anthony's bread for the poor", which is still operating.
This is also connected with Saint Anthony's Charities, which spreads the solidarity of St. Anthony all over the world.

Anonymous, the so-called

In the end, the oldest image and that which is nearest to reality is represented by the book, a symbol of his science, of his doctrine, of his preaching and of his teaching, always inspired by the book par excellence: the Bible.

June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - His Spirituality

But in greater depth, who was Saint Anthony?

In a spiritual profile the most obvious aspect is his passionate dedication, right from adolescence, to silence, to meditation, to an inner life, to prayer. Old biographies agree on this. His life story is of a great man of prayer. His companion Blessed Luke testifies to it: "This saint was truly a man of great prayer". From his paternal home to the monastery of São Vicente, from here to Santa Cruz in Coimbra, from here to the hermitage in Olivais, and then following his missionary experience, to the retreat in Montepaolo. His life as an apostle was studded with periods of retreat and hermitage: the caves of Brive, Verna, the walnut tree in Camposampiero. He was a man of immense and constant solitude.

He also kept his mouth shut. When circumstance required it, he was a surprising man. At the ordination in Forlì, the loner from the Appennine cave revealed himself to be what he is: a carrier of sacred science, an incomparable communicator. His fellow friars, were astonished and dumbfounded; from that moment on they felt authorized to ask Anthony for nearly anything.

It was considered normal that he succeeded at everything he did. He was a polyglot, a revolutionary as a pastor (daily preacher during Lent, lengthy, frequent personal confessions), professor of Biblical Theology, writer, superior, statute reviser, councillor, founder of convents, religious leader crowned by supernatural phenomenon... He roused astonishment and awe; extremes coexisted within him, from the shadows to the dazzling light, from oblivion to the greatest notoriety.He was always on his own. How many people, among his most affectionate collaborators, would have imagined the extent of his interior life?

Penetrating deeper into the divine, Saint Anthony increasingly gave himself up to his maturing faith. He became like a child in the arms of the Father who sees and provides all. He stopped planning his life, his sanctity. This is the famous principle of passivity, of hiding himself, which matured in him after his Marrakech setback.

In Assisi he was quiet, he remained hidden, he did not look after himself at all. He is pure, adoring, and happily dependent on the will of the Lord. Fr. Graziano intervened and took him to Romagna. In Forlì it was the local superior who gave him the duty of improvising the spiritual conference for those about to be ordained, and the Provincial Minister who directed him to preach. It was the Minister General who sent him to battle heretics, the General Chapter that gave him the task of seeing Pope Gregory IX to settle difficult questions, and the Minister General who elected him as Provincial. All he wanted to become invisible, to breath Him the Invisible.

Saint Anthony was a man from on high. Wherever he was, in the area of Santa Maria or in the district of Treviso, he appeared celestial.

Following the ardent evangelical formula, he was in this world, but not of this world. He was immersed in historical reality, without being caught up by it. He was everything to everyone, even spiritually he was already knowingly inserted into the divine sphere; he had a real and absorbing relationship with God. However, despite this, he did not refuse risk, commitment or personally paying the consequences, quite the contrary. He did not let ambiguity or the transitory nature of life on this earth imprison him, as his spirit lived on faith in "another world" which is beyond mankind. Thus, disembodied, ethereal, he appeared to his peers to have a demanding yet rewarding interior life, like an inhabitant of another world.

June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - His Personality

What sort of man was St. Anthony?

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.

June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - His Face

His Face

Compare the ancient "portrait", on the left, frescoed in the Basilica presbytery, and the scientific reconstruction of his face, on the right, to see immediately a marked difference. How can this be explained?
Anonymous, the so-called 'True image (or portrait)' of St. Anthony, 14th cent. C. Cremesini, bust reconstructing St. Anthony's face based on the recognition of 1981.
Art, over the centuries, has imposed very different looks. We cannot expect historical objectivity from artists. They make interpretations conditioned by the sensibilities of the era, from the prevalent hagiographic trend, to the public's request.

Rather than representing the saint in his earthly form, in his historical context, they tend to portray him in his present status as a resident of heaven, as one who has reached his heavenly destination, as an intercessor immersed in the glory of God. Thus the emphasis lies on youth and immateriality; it is an intent to transfigure.

How is "frater Antonius" represented?

The Franciscan biography Vita prima notes that St. Anthony was burdened with a tendency towards corpulence and troubled by continual infirmity. The legend called Raymundina interprets this as "dropsy". We now know that this term has had different meanings over the centuries, and so it is difficult to know which of these definitions was intended.
Following the latest recognition of his mortal remains (January 1981) the team of experts made detailed analyses which provide us with precious information.
    1. He was 1,71 m tall, much taller than the average height which in those days was 1,62-1,65m.
    2. His head had a dolichocephalous shape, i.e. elongated, with a considerable cranial capacity (1.650 cm3).
    3. His face was not round, but thin and narrow,
    4. his chin was pronounced, long, strong, slightly squared.
    5. his eyes were large and deep-set,
    6. his nose was aquiline,
    7. his hair was black,
    8. his teeth were straight and healthy. All the teeth were retained, with no signs of decay: this speaks strongly in favour of the vegetarian diet he followed.
    9. The upper half of his physique wasn't very strong, but was well-proportioned, with long hands and tapering fingers; the lower half of his physique was more developed, due to continual walking.
    10. his knees showed evidence of long periods of time spent in prayer. He thus was a normal-looking man of Mediterranean origin, with a noble, fine profile.
    11. The miraculous Saint was not a picture of miraculous health. He worried about the health of others, without thinking of his own. He must have had a strong constitution. Fr. Doimi says: "The rigid standard of living, the harshness of the penitent life, the exhausting ministry of confessions and preaching without pause, lead us to believe that by nature the Saint had a robust physical constitution, even if he died young. The violent fever contracted in Africa had after effects, and perhaps here lies the reason for his continual ill-health and his death.

June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - Recognitions

The recognition of 1263

The Saint was buried in Padua on Tuesday 17 June, in the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, which had been his spiritual refuge during the period of his most intense apostolic work. At the end of the funeral celebrations, St. Anthony's body was buried in the small church of the city's Franciscan friary. It was probably not placed underground, but left suspended in an ark-tomb so that the growing number of faithful could see and touch it.
Trevisan, St Bonaventure finds St. Anthony's incorrupt tongueThe most important recognition and transposition took place on 8 April 1263. After a significant part of the construction of the new church had been completed, it was decided to transfer St. Anthony's body.

St. Bonaventure
of Bagnoregio, who was then Minister General of the Franciscans, presided over the ceremony..

While examining the holy remains, before they were placed in a new wooden chest, he realised that St. Anthony's tongue was incorrupt.

Bonaventure exclaimed:

"O blessed tongue, which always blessed the Lord and made others bless him, now you show all the great merits you have acquired with God".
On that occasion, the tomb with St. Anthony's mortal remains was probably set in the centre of the transept, under the present conical cupola (the Angel cupola), in front of the presbytery.
The transposition of 1310

B.Montagna, The Recognition of 1350, detail, 1512Another transposition certainly took place on 14 June 1310 when the new chapel dedicated to St. Anthony at the left-hand end of the transept had been completed; the sacred remains were solemnly transferred.

On 14 February 1350, Cardinal Guido de Boulogne came to Padua to fulfil a vow (he had been cured of the black plague) and to give a precious reliquary in which St. Anthony's chin (or to be more precise his jawbone) was placed. A final, temporary transposition occurred at the beginning of the 16th century when St. Anthony's Gothic chapel was demolished to make room for the new Renaissance chapel, which, despite being incomplete, was inaugurated in 1532.

The recognition of 1981

Photo of first moments of recognition of St. Anthony's body on 6 January 1981- a tomb open to hopeAn important investigation of St. Anthony's mortal remains was conducted on 6 January 1981, on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the Saint's death. Religious and scientific commissions, both nominated by the Holy See, opened the tomb and examined the contents.
Once the green marble tombstone had been removed, a large wooden chest was found wrapped in cloth.

This chest contained another smaller wooden chest, inside which various items, wrapped in precious cloth and labelled, were found in three compartments.They included the skeleton, apart from the chin, the left forearm and other minor bones, which for centuries had been preserved in special reliquaries.
The other contents included St. Anthony's woollen habit; a stone with the date of his death and another one with the date of the recognition and transposition of 1263 and the "massa corporis", his ashes.

The exhibition in 1981

St. Anthony's remains were exhibited from 31 January to Sunday 1 March 1981 (for a total of 29 days) for the veneration of the faithful, who arrived in the thousands, over 650,000. The skeleton was then recomposed and placed in a crystal casket.

glass casket containing St. Anthony's bodyThis was then returned to the centuries-old altar-tomb in the chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. Some of the discoveries, the Saint's habit in particular, are now on display in the Treasury Chapel.


June 13th - For the Coming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - Part 2

France thirsty for peace

A land ablaze, a people in torment. This was the south of France at the time of St. Anthony. The cause of so much agitation can be attributed to the political and social struggle between orthodox Catholics and the heretical Albigensian sect, which had taken root there decades earlier.
The papacy united its strength with those worldly powers that saw the economic advantage of such an alliance, and together they fought the heresy. However, the persecutions that raged for over 20 years were to no avail.

What drew the people back to the true religion was the witness and preaching of the Cistercians, Dominicans and Franciscans, who gave their all to this work in true accordance with the teachings of charity. Eminent among them was St. Anthony.
Where the battle rages
L. Galdiolo, icon of St. Anthony, 1995There is no sure information concerning Anthony's time in France. There is, however, one fixed date, 1226, when Anthony established a Franciscan friary in Limoges.
Coming from Bologna, Anthony passed through Provence to Languedoc, then to Limoges and Berry.

Here he found a region troubled by the Albigensian heresy, decimated by the crusades and rife with power struggles

Since January 1217, Pope Honorius III had been encouraging the professors of theology in Paris to confront the Albigensian movement.
Anthony was thus sent, probably accompanied by qualified friars, at the suggestion of the Minister General who had been informed of the situation by friars living in the area, and under pressure from the papal curia
Anthony became a theology teacher and preacher in Montpellier, a distinguished university and a stronghold of Catholic orthodoxy. Dominicans and Franciscans were trained here both pastorally and intellectually, preparing themselves for the preaching of sermons to heretics throughout the country.
Arles: St. Francis appears as Anthony preaches
The fact is certain, but the date is unclear. The historian Thomas of Celano recalls how Friar John of Florence, chosen by St. Francis as Minister Provincial of the friars of Provence, celebrated a provincial chapter, either in the second half of 1224, or in the first half of the following year.
During the assembly, Anthony gave a fervent sermon on the Passion of Christ. As he spoke, Friar Monaldo received a vision of "the blessed Francis raised in ecstasy above them with his arms extended in the form of the cross, in the act of blessing his friars". Saint Anthony's sermon was on the mystery of the Crucifixion of Christ, in particular on the inscription: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John, 19,19).

It is very probable that this sermon was delivered on one of the days marked by the mystery of the cross: Good Friday, 28 March 1225; the finding of the Cross (Inventio crucis) on 2 May 1225; or even (and this would be particularly significant) the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in 1224, the very day on which St. Francis received the stigmata.
Anthony in Toulouse and Limoges
G. Campagna, St. Anthony brings a young man back to life, 1577Toulouse lies in the present day province of Haute-Garonne and has ancient origins. Anthony's itinerant apostolate could not but echo throughout an ideological cross-roads such as Toulouse.
It is more than likely that in this neo-Manichaean stronghold Anthony taught theology to the friars. Around 1226, Anthony moved further north, to Limoges. He stayed in the abbey of Solignac, on the Briance, which belongs to the diocese of Limoges, and here he performed a miracle for the monk who served as his nurse.
Limoges remains one of the most important places in Anthony's life because he held the position of custos (superior) of the Franciscans of the city and its environs. While we are certain that Anthony was the custos of Limoges, this fact has to be accepted with a certain degree of circumspection since the evidence was only recorded some seventy years later. According to a chronicle of the Friary of St. Martial, in Limoges, Anthony gave his first speech in the cemetery of St. Paul taking as his text Psalm 29.6. He preached a second sermon in the Friary of St. Martin using Psalm 54.7, "Who will give me wings like a dove, to fly and find rest?" It was in Limoges that another astonishing event occurred in the Church of St. Pierre-du-Queyroix. At about midnight on Holy Thursday, St. Anthony was transported among his friars to sing the liturgy since it was his responsibility.

In Bourges, Le Puy and elsewhere
J.G. Holmes, The Death of St. Francis, 1474-1477The year 1226 saw Anthony establishing a friary in Brive. It was here that Anthony found the necessary peace to restore his strength after the exhausting labours of preaching. He withdrew to some caves just outside the town. Here he dedicated himself to penance and contemplation.

After his death, his memory was kept alive among the inhabitants of Brive, and the caves where he stayed have become a place of pilgrimage
Although having been confiscated by the state during the uncertain times following the French Revolution, the sanctuary of Brive was bought back by the friars in 1874 and re-consecrated in 1895. Since then it has become the national centre of Anthonian devotion in France.

The superb cathedral of Bourges, a gothic jewel, welcomed Anthony the missionary. He also went to Le-Puy-en-Velay, in the present-day province of Haute-Loire, at the foot of Mount Anisan. It is uncertain whether or not he held the position of guardian of the community here. It is impossible to say when St. Anthony returned to Italy, why he returned or where he lived as he continued on his missionary pilgrimage. Anthonian biographers state that his return to Italy would have been for the occasion of the General Chapter, held at Pentecost in Assisi 30 May 1227. 

St. Francis had died the previous year on the evening of 3 October 1226. Thus the assembly had to elect a new Minister General.
As custos of the Limoges region, Anthony would have been required to take part in the chapter in which the St. Francis' successor was to be chosen. Other biographers believe that Anthony may not have actually been custos of the chapter at the time, but rather was recalled to Italy by Friar Elias or Friar Giovanni Parenti. All that is known is that, on his way to Italy, he crossed Provence on foot

Minister Provincial
L. Cagnozzi, Wooden inlay with St. Anthony, 1974-77 Because St. Anthony was held in such esteem by his brother friars he was chosen Minister Provincial of Northern Italy, including the region of Romagna, a position which added further burdens to his already numerous responsibilities. Who assigned him this position is not known, but the majority of Anthonian scholars theorise that he held this position for only three years, from 1227 to 1230.

As Provincial, Anthony distinguished himself by his spirit of service and fraternity, supporting encouraging and guiding his brothers through example and advice.

A reliable source tells us that he remained the provincial until May of 1230.

Friendship with Thomas of San Vittore
While he was Minister Provincial of northern Italy, Anthony always maintained the ideals of St. Francis in the many different circumstances in which he found himself. He cultivated relationships with the church hierarchy, presenting himself as a faithful Catholic, avoiding conflict and fostering a climate of harmony. The proof of this trust and respect by the hierarchy is evidenced by the personal participation of the Bishop of Padua during the Lenten sermons of 1231,and the fact that his quick canonisation met with little or no objection.
A second objective of his pastoral action was his intention to harmonise the activities of young Franciscan Order with those of the older religious Orders. While still in France, Anthony was warmly received by the monks of the Abbey of Solignac.
He also maintained a cordial and fraternal relationship with his former Augustinian community. Although he had become a Franciscan he did not want to cut off his ties with the past, rather he kept all the valid ideas he had learned and loved in the monasteries of St. Vincent and Santa Cruz in Portugal. His closest friendship during his years in Italy seems to have been with the Parisian Thomas of San Vittore, abbot of Sant'Andrea in Vercelli.
As custos, Anthony's travels eventually took him to the city of Vercelli, where he met Thomas of San Vittore and remained for a few weeks to preach. Thomas had gone to Vercelli in 1220. He was nominated prior in 1224, and, in 1226, he became abbot.
Sources say that the two saints held a mutual respect for each other in both their academic and fraternal relationships.
Apostle of Peace
While the Venetian Giovanni Dandolo was the mayor of Padua (29 June 1229 - 28 June 1230), the desperately longed for peace began to settle over the region. Let us hear the testimony of a contemporary, the Paduan notary Rolandino:
"For the space of about one year the cities of the region of Treviso enjoyed such peace that almost all were convinced that from then on there would no longer be unrest or wars. Almost the entire population was spiritually restored, elevated to celestial realities by means of exemplary preaching. And it was at this fair moment that the Blessed Anthony also entered the region announcing the Word of God in a captivating voice".
The writing of the Sermones
A page from the Grottaferrata manuscriptThe Assidua biography of St. Anthony (11,3) affirms that he wrote his Sermones for Sundays during his stay in Padua, where a deep and mutual affection grew up between him and the inhabitants. It would be difficult for us to date the Sermones with precision. We do, however, know that his place of residence was Santa Maria Mater Domini.
The Assidua (11,7), speaking about the tireless zeal for saving souls that urged Anthony to give himself entirely to the apostolate, notes that he continued his pastoral work until sundown, very often fasting. He preached, taught and heard confessions. In his apostolate, St. Anthony was accompanied by some companions, and in the last period he was accompanied by Blessed Luke Belludi.

Apostolic preacher

It was on the occasion of the General Chapter in 1230, that took place during the translation of St. Francis' remains to the new basilica built in his honour, that Anthony was released from his responsibilities of leadership.

Because of the esteem in which the other friars held him, however, he was commissioned as a preacher with the privilege of travelling wherever he felt best. Along with six other friars he was also chosen as one of the Order's representatives to Pope Gregory IX.

The development of the Order
Did Anthony have personal contact with Gregory IX? When and for what reason was he sent to the papal curia? What position did he take concerning the questions of the development of the Order? What was his relationship with one of the most enigmatic leaders of the Franciscan Order, Brother Elias? Sources reveal that the General Chapter of 1230 had to seek the pope's intercession because of the discordant discussion that had arisen as to whether or not the Last Will and Testament of Saint Francis held any juridical value. St. Anthony played a role in discussing and debating such questions with the pontiff.

During this trip, which took place partly in Rome and partly in Anagni, Anthony became known in the highest circles for his outstanding saintliness and extraordinary biblical knowledge, not only through private meetings with various dignities but through spiritual conferences and homilies. Upon orders of Gregory IX, he gave a speech to many pilgrims in the eternal city. On that occasion, miracle similar to what happened to the Apostles at Pentecost took place; each listener heard the speech in his or her own language.
A Franciscan tradition states that Gregory IX invited Anthony to remain by his side. However, "He, humbly renouncing this honour in order to work for the good of others, and after having obtained the apostolic blessing, he chose to isolate himself in Verna. He remained there for some time, dedicating himself to preaching and penance. He then went to Padua."

Anthony the Franciscan
Trevisan, St. Anthony before the PopeWhat relationship was there between Anthony and other Franciscans, especially the leadership of the Order? Biographers have often shown Anthony as standing on his own, almost removed from the context of the Franciscan movement. At the beginning of the order, the followers of Francis were men of diverse personalities and their sense of belonging to a group was probably rather weak. After all, the official document which gave the order its identity was the Rule which dates only to 1223. Anthony and Elias, by their natures, moral temperaments, and spiritual maturity appear to have been quite different.

They lived in different worlds. We do not know what influence St. Francis, his life or his spirit had on the faith and various activities of Anthony. In the Sermones, Francis' name is never mentioned. It is a noticeable void, especially considering that the Sermones constitute such an extensive work and were published after Francis' canonisation. Anthony was a temperate person, who tried to unite being faithful to the Franciscan charisma with the urgent demands made on him in the various surroundings in which he undertook his pastoral task.

 The great Paduan period
P. Annigoni, St. Anthony preaching from the walnut tree, detail. 1985Anthony stayed in Padua on two occasions. The first was between 1229 and 1230 and the second between 1230 and 1231, during which he met his early death. Together the two occasions constitute a period of slightly more than twelve months in the city where he is the patron saint.
What type of Padua attracted and welcomed him? A place which while composed of many different elements, was unanimous in its appreciation of Anthony at the foot of his pulpit or in the confessional, just a few months after his arrival. Padua functioned as a scriptorium for his biblical and liturgical commentaries.
We can also hypothesise that Padua provided him not only with a supply of libraries but also with collaborators and clerks to help in drawing up the texts.

The Sermones are considered as the most remarkable literary work of a religious nature compiled in Padua during the Middle Ages.
Padua interested Anthony because of its university; he had a preference for cities with centres of higher learning - Bologna, Montpellier, Toulouse, Vercelli.

A university was also a place with a high concentration of youth. And Anthony was an expert "fisher of youth.

Perhaps feeling that his end was near, he aspired to secure new recruits for the demanding and joyful task of spreading the Gospel. What is more, the Veneto region was in a period of unrest. Anthony felt the need to intervene, doubling his efforts to ward off the spark of new conflict. Even in faithful Padua, there were still subtle and blatant followers of heresy.

The days of salvation

At dawn on February 5, Anthony put down his quill and stopped writing. The city was living a magical moment of peace. Word spread that he was going to preach daily for forty days of Lent, taking his inspiration from the daily readings. Before long, the small church of Santa Maria Mater Domini was not able to contain the growing multitude. No church seemed large enough to contain the people, and soon not even the public squares were able to hold the crowds. Being heard was not a problem, since Anthony was endowed with exceptionally booming voice; however, the large numbers obliged him to speak outside the city, in the middle of the fields, just as he did in France. The nobility and the lower classes, women and men, young and old, fervent church-goers and people "distant" from the Church, gentlemen and scoundrels, religious and lay people alike all assembled to await the arrival of the man of God. Bishop Jacopo, together with his clergy, took part in the Lenten event, which he had authorised with the joy of a shepherd seeing his flock gathered in fertile pastures.

From one sermon to the next, news of what was happening in Padua spread, causing a steady increase in listeners. An incessant crowd thronged around Anthony's confessional. He was unable to cope with them all, even though priests from his Order and diocesan priests of the city tried to lighten his load. All he could do was wait for the stream to die down at sunset. The Assidua narrates that Anthony resigned himself to fasting until sunset. Some flocked to the sacrament of penance, declaring that an apparition had driven them to confess and change their lives Assidua states:"He converted discord into fraternal peace; he restored freedom to prisoners, that which had been stolen by usury and violence was given back to its owners."

House and land were mortgaged and the proceeds were laid at his feet. He dissuaded prostitutes from their base commerce; he made notorious thieves desist from laying their hands on other people's property. Thus, at the end of the 40 days, he gathered a harvest which was pleasing to the Lord.

I cannot keep silent about the multitude that he inspired to confess their sins, so great a number of men and women that not even the group of priests that accompanied him were sufficient to hear their confessions."

Anthony had a hand in changing the municipal legislation of Padua, in particular, a statue regarding insolvent debtors, dated 17 March 1231, Monday of Holy Week (the day after Palm Sunday).

Here are the contents of the statue, from the original Latin:

"By request of the venerable friar Anthony, of the Order of Friars Minor, it is established and ordained that no one convicted of one or more debts of money, in the past or the present or in the future, will be held in prison provided that he is willing to relinquish his possessions. This holds for both debtors and creditors. If, however, a renunciation or a relinquishment is made fraudulently, either by the debtor or by the creditor, it has no value and shall not bring damage to the creditor. When fraud cannot be demonstrated in an evident way, then let the mayor be the judge. This statute cannot be modified in any way and must remain unchanged in perpetuity."

At the hermitage of Camposampiero
B. De' Pitati, St. Anthony preaching from the walnut tree, Camposampiero, 16th centThere are various reasons why Anthony withdrew to the hermitage at Camposampiero.

The first is rarely mentioned but easily imagined. After the intense mission of preaching and reconciliation during Lent and the Easter season, he was simply exhausted.
The second reason is given in the Assidua (15,2) and echoed by subsequent biographers. For practical reasons Anthony was obliged to suspend his preaching so that the people could attend to their crops.
The third reason was that he wished to isolate himself in a tranquil, out of the way place, to continue writing the Sunday Sermones and perhaps finish them.

The fourth motive was that he wished to avoid alarming his brother friars who were witnessing Anthony's declining health.

And most importantly, no doubt, Anthony wished to retreat from active life, to immerse himself in prayer and prepare his spirit for his coming death.

We can theorise that Anthony departed from Padua on Monday, May 19, and, therefore, his sojourn at Camposampiero, including a short stay at Verona, lasted approximately twenty-five days.

Death of Saint Anthony

G. TESSARI, The Death of St. Anthony, 1513In late spring 1231, Anthony was taken ill. Knowing this to be his final illness, he asked to be taken to Padua, wishing to breathe his last in that city. He was laid on a cart pulled by oxen, and set off for the city in the company of some other friars. But when they reached Arcella, a small town on the outskirts of Padua, death took him. His final words were, "I see my Lord." It was 13 June, and Anthony was 36 years old.

The Saint was buried in Padua, in the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, which had been his spiritual refuge during the period of his most intense apostolic work. At the end of the funeral celebrations, St. Anthony's body was buried in the small church of the city's Franciscan friary. It was probably not placed underground, but left suspended in an ark-tomb so that the growing number of faithful could see and touch it.

A year after his death, the fame of many miracles brought about through his intercession convinced Pope Gregory IX to shorten the period for his canonisation, and Anthony was proclaimed a Saint on 30 May 1232, only 11 months after his death.

The Church has also done justice to his spiritual doctrine, since Pope Pius XII proclaimed him "Doctor of the Universal Church" in 1946.

June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - Part 1

Lisbon Cathedral, St. Anthony's birth placeSt. Anthony was born in Portugal in 1195; on 15th August according to Baroque tradition. He was the son of the nobleman, Martino de Buglioni and Donna Maria Taveira, who lived a few metres away from the cathedral. He was christened with the name Fernando.

He spent his formative years under the cultured guidance of the canons of the cathedral. Many of his school companions were boys who were considering the priesthood as a career. It is likely that young Fernando's commitment to join the priesthood was born among his close friends.

In fact, the moral mediocrity and corruption of the society around him convinced Anthony to choose this path.

He entered the Augustinian monastery of St. Vincent, outside the walls of Lisbon, where he lived uncompromisingly according to his evangelical ideal.

Among the Augustinians
Trevisan, St. Anthony as an AugustinianHe stayed at St. Vincent for approximately two years. But, distracted by continuous visits from friends, he asked to be transferred elsewhere. He thus undertook his first great journey to Coimbra, then the capital of Portugal. The new monastery of Santa Cruz was about 230 km from Lisbon.

He was seventeen years old and was to live in this monastery of nearly 70 members for eight years from 1212 to 1220.
These were very important years in the young saint's humanistic and intellectual development. He was surrounded with good teachers and a vast, up-to-date library.

Fernando completely dedicated himself to the study of human and theological sciences in an attempt to remove himself from the tensions in the community. The years in Coimbra left a deep mark on the future apostle's personality and existential development.

Moreover, he already began to show signs of his solitary nature. He was a man indifferent to outward appearances and ostentations of any kind, without social ambitions or a desire to be seen in public, unless spurred on by the duty of spreading the Gospel. When it was time to leave Coimbra, he had become a man of mature stature.
His theological training, based on a solid biblical and patristic tradition, had been firmly engrained.
Fernando the priest
Fernando was ordained a priest in the monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, probably in 1220.This would have made him twenty-five years old, and it thus appears that the canonical rule which forbids ordination before the age of thirty was for some reason waived for Fernando.

Witness of blood

Towards the end of the summer of 1220, Fernando requested and obtained permission to leave the Canons Regular of St. Augustine to embrace the Franciscan way of life. Although it is not certain whether he had personally met the first Franciscans to arrive in the Iberian Peninsula, he had certainly heard about them and found their way of life appealing.
At that time, the mortal remains of several Franciscans, who had been martyred for their faith in Morocco, had been placed in two silver chests and transported by Prince Pedro and his retinue to Ceuta. They were then transferred to Algeciras, then to Seville and finally to Coimbra, where they were laid to rest in the Augustinian Church of Santa Cruz.
The deeds of the martyrs were written down and miracles were spoken of, which increased devotion to Franciscanism among the local people. Fernando's request to join the followers of Francis of Assisi stemmed from a strong vocation to missionary life and, in particular, from his desire for martyrdom in imitation of these friars.
Anthony the missionary
Trevisan, St. Anthony reflecting on the martyrdom of the Franciscan missionariesIn September 1220, Fernando removed the white tunic of the Augustinians and was invested in the coarse habit of the Friars Minor.
He abandoned his baptismal name for that of Anthony, the Egyptian hermit, after whom the Franciscan Hermitage of St. Anthony dos Olivais was named.
After a brief period of study of the Franciscan Rule, Anthony was sent to Morocco
The itinerary he followed is unknown. It is very likely that Anthony was accompanied by another friar, a standard Franciscan practice, however, this man too is unknown to us.

Having arrived in the territory of the Miramolino, in Marrakech, it is said that Anthony was welcomed as a guest into the home of a resident Christian family. To communicate with the Muslims, Anthony may have spoken Arabic, not so surprising as he had grown up in bilingual Lisbon, or he may have relied on the linguistic abilities of this companion.
However, because of an undetermined tropical illness, Anthony was unable to fulfil his mission preaching of the Gospel to the Muslims.
The illness was so severe that, while not giving up his aim of martyrdom, he was obliged to leave Morocco and to return home to Portugal.
But fate was again to play a part, when a storm and unfavourable winds carried the ship off course to Sicily. Tradition says that St. Anthony disembarked at Milazzo (Messina). As his talents were still unknown, his new community did not give Anthony any responsibilities. His Sicilian convalescence lasted for about two months.
Anthony then left Sicily for the Italian mainland to take part in the General Chapter being held in Assisi from May 30 - June 8, 1221. As a recent foreign recruit from Lisbon, Anthony was not known and probably spent the nine days of the assembly isolated and alone, immersed in observation and reflection.
When the General Chapter came to an end, none of the Ministers Provincial appeared interested in taking this undistinguished friar back with them to their jurisdictions. But Anthony was finally noticed by Friar Gratian, the Minister Provincial of Romagna. Having heard that the young man was a priest, Friar Gratian asked Anthony to come with him.
Hermit at Montepaolo
C. Patro, St. Anthony in MontepaoloIn the company of Gratian of Bagnacavallo and other friars from Romagna, Anthony arrived at Montepaolo in June 1221.

His days were spent in prayer, meditation and humble service to his brothers.

During this period, the future saint was able to mature his Franciscan vocation, renew his ascetic practices and purify himself in contemplation.

Most biographies state that Anthony remained at Montepaolo until Pentecost (May 22), or at the latest, until September of the same year.

Right from the start, given his obvious devotion, the brothers treated Anthony with reverence.
Having seen that one of his companions had transformed a grotto into a solitary cell, Anthony asked if he could use it.

Thus, every morning, after community prayers, Anthony hurried to his grotto (which is still carefully preserved today), to live alone with God in the discipline of penitence, intimate prayer, prolonged readings of the scriptures and contemplation.

For the canonical hours and for meals, Anthony joined his companions
But by his fervent penances he so exhausted his fragile health with fasts and vigils that, more than once, when the sound of the bell called him to community events, it is said that Anthony tottered in and would have collapsed had the other friars not held him up.

When Anthony asked how he could be of service to the community, the guardian of the friary assigned him to wash the crockery and sweep the floors.

The hour of the call
In September, 1222, the Dominicans and Franciscans gathered together at the cathedral in Forlì for the ordination of some of their community members. As was the custom, a sermon was to be offered at the liturgy, but for some reason no one had been chosen to give it.
A. Trebbi, St. Anthony preaching in Forli, 1999 The superior of Montepaolo asked Anthony to speak after the others had declined because they were not prepared. The young friar tried to avoid the summons, but he bowed to the superior's insistence and began to speak serenely. As his speech progressed in articulate Latin, the words became more entrancing.
In spite of his initial reticence, Anthony's profound knowledge of the Bible and his engaging eloquence could not help but shine through and impress all who were present.
After the ordination ceremony, the formerly unnoticed Portuguese brother, the quiet and dutiful hermit, was thrust into the centre of attention of his community. He returned to Montepaolo and bid farewell to his peaceful grotto, asking his brother friars to remember him and to pray for him.

Anthony the preacher

P. Annigoni, St. Anthony preaches to the fish, detail, 1981After the revelation of Anthony's abilities at Forlì, his superiors asked him to preach in the towns and villages of Romagna. Thus St. Anthony began his mission as a preacher. He spoke to the people, sharing in their lowly and troubled lives. He alternated his commitment to education with works for peace; he taught theology to the friars, heard confessions and confronted heretics in private and public.
Romagna was also afflicted by civil war: the cities were torn apart by suspicion, conspiracy and the violence of rival families. As if this were not enough, the heresy of the Cathari was rampant and attracting more and more followers.

The Church was slow to react and when it did, its response was unsuccessful. The heretics continued to spread distorted theories and sow dangerous doubts.

An important incident took place at Rimini in 1223 where, according to tradition, St. Anthony overcame the obstinacy of one heretic, who did not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Theologian in Bologna

Toward the end of 1223, Anthony was invited to teach theology in the city of Bologna.

For two years he taught the fundamental truths of the Catholic faith. For two years from the age of 28-30, he taught the basic truths of faith to clergy and laypeople using a simple but efficient method. He first read a sacred text and then interpreted it in an involving way which spoke to the listener's faith.

St. Anthony was thus the first teacher of theology of the newly-established Franciscan Order, the first link in a chain of theologians, preachers and writers, who over the centuries have brought honour to the Church.

"Anthony, my bishop"

Francis of Assisi was hesitant about his brother friars dedicating themselves to the study of theology, as the Rule made clear. But given Anthony's solid foundation and his moral integrity, an exception was made.

The authenticity of the brief letter sent to Anthony by St. Francis is now widely accepted by scholars.
The text, translated from the Italian version of Kajetan Esser, is as follows:
"To brother Anthony, my bishop, I wish you health. I approve of your teaching theology to the brothers, provided that, on account of this study, you do not diminish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, as is ordained in the Rule. Be well."

U. Oppi, St. Francis entrusts St. Anthony with the responsibility of teaching theology to the friars, 1939The great Franciscan scholar Raoul Manselli saw this letter as authorisation for Anthony to teach sacred theology to the friars. The letter is thus "a text of considerable importance" having "great value and significance for the entire history of the Order which must be understood and explained in view of its importance".
And in his itinerant apostolate, both in Italy and in France, Anthony began introducing intensive preaching into the catechetical training of the new recruits of the Order, therefore "he must have already received the permission granted in Francis' brief letter… "

It seems that Francis' initial hesitation regarding the study of theology reflected the mistrust that often existed between the learned and the unlearned of his day.
Francis never wanted his brother friars to forget 'humility'.

Theologian for his brothers

The friars asked St. Anthony to come and teach theology.
They were in touch with the people and were saddened and alarmed at the inferiority of the young Franciscan Order, which together with the Dominicans was called by an ever-growing number of faithful to fill the gap left by the diocesan in the areas of pastoral work and religious instruction.
The teaching of Theology emulated the initiative of the Dominican Order, known as the "Order of Preachers", which established a theological school in Bologna in 1219, while St. Dominic was still alive.
A lesson with St. Anthony
Anonymous, Saint Anthony writes the Sermones
What would a theology lesson with St. Anthony have been like?
According to the methods of the time, which Anthony also followed, allegory played an important role in explaining doctrine, as did constant references to the Bible.
This style encouraged:
- a clarity of concepts,
- expressions which avoided useless redundancies,
- a concern to be persuasive and practical,
- involvement of the entire person (rationally, emotionally and imaginatively),
- all of which persuaded the listener to follow the biblical dictates in daily life.

Doctor of the Church

Among his contemporaries and in the generations immediately afterwards, Anthony was held to be a master of Christian knowledge and an unequalled biblical scholar. 

One historian says that St. Anthony possessed such eminent knowledge that he was able to use his memory instead of books, and he knew how to express himself with abundant grace in mystic language. The profoundness of his lecturing entranced his listeners.
The Roman Curia welcomed Anthony to preach to them, and afterwards Pope Gregory IX complemented him by calling Anthony "the Ark of the Testament".

El Greco, Saint Anthony, 16th centIn 1931, the seven-hundredth anniversary of St. Anthony's death, the Congregation of Rites discussed Anthony's teachings. They stated:
"Se sia da confermarsi il culto di Dottore tributato per secoli a sant’Antonio di Padova e se sia da estendersi alla Chiesa universale, con ufficio e messa del comune dei dottori". "The cult of Doctor, attributed for centuries to St. Anthony of Padua, is to be confirmed and extended into in the liturgical office of the universal Church".
Pope Pius XII had the honour of affirming this title on January 16, 1946, with the Apostolic Letter Exsulta, Lusitania felix ('Rejoice, happy Portugal'). "St. Anthony is a Doctor of the Church with the title "doctor evangelicus".

In fact, this formal apostolic recognition delayed by seven centuries was merely a confirmation of a belief that had come into existence shortly after Anthony's death. 

Excerpt from a letter of St. Padre Pio

"What else can I say to you? May the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit always be at the center of your heart. Place your heart in the open side of the Savior and unite it with the King of our hearts who is within it as on a royal throne, in order that He might receive homage and obedience from all other hearts. Keep its door open so that everybody can approach Him and gain an audience at all times. And when your heart speaks to Him, don't forget, my dearest daughter, to speak in favor of mine again, so that his divine and cordial Majesty may render it good, obedient, faithful and less wretched than it is."
- St. Padre Pio (Letters III, p. 431)