Tag Archives: St Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony of Padua

The Church liturgically honors Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan priest, renown preacher, miracle-worker and Doctor of the Church (1195-1231). Saint Anthony is clearly a pivotal figure in the hearts of many Catholics. His biography is very intriguing. Here is the Blessing of Lilies for the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua.

Sant'Antonio di PadovaBorn in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195, Fernando de Bouillon was of a noble family related to the famous Godefroy de Bouillon, founder and first sovereign of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, who at the close of the Crusade of 1099 had refused to wear a crown, there where Christ had worn one of thorns.

Favored by nature and grace, Fernand resolved at the age of fifteen to leave the world and consecrate himself to God in the Order of Canons Regular of Saint Augustine. No flattery, threat or caress of his relatives could persuade him to leave that holy refuge. He asked to be transferred to another convent to avoid the family’s solicitations, and was sent to Coimbra. Still young, his sanctity became evident through miracles; he cured a poor religious whom the devil was obsessing, by covering him with his cloak.

When this young monk decided, after witnessing the return of the martyred remains of five Franciscans who had gone to Africa, to join that Order so favored with the graces of martyrdom, the Augustinians were desolate but could not prevent his departure, for Saint Francis himself appeared to him in a vision in July 1220, and commanded him to leave. He was then sent by the Franciscans to Africa, but two years later was obliged to return to Italy because of sickness; thus he was deprived of the martyr’s crown he would have been happy to receive.

In 1222 Anthony, as he was now called, went with other Brothers and some Dominican friars to be ordained at Forli. There Fra Antonio rose under obedience to preach for the first time to the religious, and took for his theme the text of Saint Paul: Christ chose for our sake to become obedient unto death. As the discourse proceeded, the Hammer of Heretics, the Ark of the Testament, the eldest son of Saint Francis, stood revealed in all his sanctity, learning, and eloquence before his rapt and astonished brethren. He had been serving in the humblest offices of his community; now he was summoned to emerge from this obscurity. And then for nine years France, Italy, and Sicily heard his voice and saw his miracles, whose numbers can scarcely be counted. A crowd to which he was preaching outdoors one day, when the church was too small to hold all who came to hear him, amidst thunder and lightning felt not one drop of water fall upon them, while all around them the rain poured down. And men’s hearts turned to God.

We may wonder why we always see Saint Anthony with the Child Jesus in his arms. The account of this heavenly visitation was told only after his death, at the official process concerning his virtues and miracles. It was narrated by the man who witnessed the marvel in question; the Saint himself had never spoken of it. Saint Anthony was in the region of Limoges in France, and was offered hospitality, rest and silence by this businessman of the region, in his country manor. He was given a room apart, to permit him to pray in peace; but during the night his host looked toward his lighted window and saw in the brilliance a little Infant of marvelous beauty in the arms of the Saint, with His own around the Friar’s neck. The witness trembled at the sight, and in the morning Saint Anthony, to whom it had been revealed that his host had seen the visitation, called him and enjoined him not to tell it as long as he was alive. The town near Limoges where this occurred remains unknown; the original account of the inquiry does not name it, but says that the man in question narrated it, with tears, after Saint Anthony’s death.

After a number of years of teaching of theology, unceasing preaching and writing, Saint Anthony, whose health was never strong, was spending a short time of retreat in a hermitage near Padua. He was overcome one day with a sudden weakness, which prevented him from walking. It progressed so rapidly that it was evident his last days had arrived. He died at the age of thirty-six, after ten years with the Canons Regular and eleven with the Friars Minor, on June 13, 1231. The voices of children were heard crying in the streets of Padua, Our father, Saint Anthony, is dead. The following year, the church bells of Lisbon rang without ringers, while in Rome one of its sons was inscribed among the Saints of God.

Reflection. Let us love to pray and labor unseen, and cherish in the secret of our hearts the graces of God and the growth of our immortal souls. Like Saint Anthony, let us attend to this first of all and leave the rest to God.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Saint Anthony of Padua

St Anthony of Padua with bk.jpgAlmighty ever-living God, who gave Saint Anthony of Padua to your people as an outstanding preacher and an intercessor in their need, grant that, with his assistance, as we follow the teachings of the Christian life, we may know your help in every trial.

One of the beautiful things that happened today was the reception of First Holy Communion of Giovannimaria Rainaldi, 6, who is living with neuroblastoma. From Rome, Italy, he’s been here seeking treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Giovannimaria has had a setback and needs our fraternal and prayerful support.

Be sure to read the select for Saint Anthony in the Office of Readings. As usual, it’s good for meditation.

Saint Anthony help us to find Christ, and stick with Him. Pray for us.

Saint Anthony of Padua & the blessing of lilies

Vision of St Anthony VCarducho.jpgThe great saint from Lisbon and Padua, Anthony, was an outstanding preacher and intercessor. He was –and continues to be– a terrific guide to a fuller life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacrament of the Church. There is no shortage of the faithful who visit a shrine of Saint Anthony to ask for his help in a particular need. In my church I am amazed of people’s tender love for Anthony today. The famous Paduan was known for his holy life, his knowledge of sacred Scripture and Theology.

Anthony’s first vocation was lived with the Augustinian Canons and after seeing the bodies of the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order brought through Portugal, he was moved to join the Friars in their mission of preaching for the salvation of souls, especially among the Muslims.

Here’s the traditional blessing of lilies for the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua.

Saint Anthony of Padua

Loving God, upon this day
Sing we all in joyful praise:
Anthony, your faithful son,
On this day has heaven won.
He, the preacher of the Word,
Lived in deed the truth he heard;
Called by martyr’s death to be
Vowed to holy poverty.
Lord, accept the hymns we raise,
Singing Anthony’s holy praise!

Faithful friar, in Francis’ step
Bids us go where he has led,
Drawn by him, we offer laud
To Christ Jesus, Son of God.
Fearless teacher of the way,
Guiding us to work and pray,
Through his never-ceasing prayer
Leads us Christ-ward ev’rywhere.
Lord, accept the hymns we raise,
Singing Anthony’s holy praise!

To the Father and the Son
And the Spirit, Three-in-One,
Hymns of glory, songs of love
Sing we, echoing those above.
With the angels’ chorus high
Earth now makes this joyful cry;
With Saint Anthony we sing,
Praising God, our heav’nly King.
Lord, accept the hymns we raise,
Singing Anthony’s holy praise!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
77 77 D; MENDELSSOHN, (or, without refrain, SALZBURG)

Shrine of St Anthony in Ellicott City, MD –breaking for spring

St Anthony Shrine3 Ellicott City.jpgEaster week is time for spring break this year, especially after a very busy Holy Week schedule. And getting away from the ordinary was required. Like all graduate students on break, I went to visit friends at a Conventual Franciscan friary in Maryland.

One of my friends there is Friar Brad, the Father Guardian (and formation director) of the student brothers and postulants. My other friend Friar Gabriel who’s originally from the New Haven, CT area and preparing to profess vows and to follow more intensely the Franciscan way of life. Besides preparing for priesthood, Gabriel and I share a number of common things in life; the important part of the visit was seeing him in situ and understanding his religious life as a Conventual friar (the group first founded by St Francis of Assisi). Being among the friars was restful and delightful. I wasn’t there too long but I did get to Washington, DC, Georgetown, WTU and the Shrine of St Anthony, Ellicott City, Maryland. Sadly, the cherry blossoms were gone by the time I bounced on the scene.

Marian shrine Ellicott City.jpg

A ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Friars, the Shrine of St Anthony is a place of welcome of pilgrims come from far and near for a period of prayer. The Shrine is located in the farmlands of Howard County in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Situated on about 200 acres, you know you are in farmland by sight and scent: the working farms dot the landscape. As good stewards of the land, the friars rent a good portion of the land to the University of Maryland for their learning. Architecturely the shrine will remind you immediately of Tuscan architecture with the tile roof, gardens, stone and wood work. I had an immediate sense of home. The friar’s chapel has an exquisitely carved set of choir stalls. As a spiritual “program” the friars provide a horizon for reconciliation, healing, spiritual direction, meditation and contemplation. Outdoor shrines are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Maximillian Kolbe and the Way of the Cross all which capture the theological imagination and propel the retreatant or causal visitor to work on holiness. The shrine chapel staff provides a regular schedule of the Mass, confession, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Vespers. There’s also Tuesday’s Novena of St Anthony and 3 healing Masses a month. 

St Anthony altar St Anthony Shrine Ellicott City.jpg

On the 800th anniversary of St Anthony’s birth the friars received a gift of a reliquary of St Anthony from the Italian province of Conventual Franciscans enthroned in a walnut-tree house. Historically St Anthony lived and preached in a walnut tree house.
cloister garden Ellicott City.jpg

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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