As a popular preacher and teacher of theology Anthony fought tirelessly against heresy. His homilies were inspired by the love of God and of souls and are remarkable for their insights. Pope Gregory IX, who heard Anthony preach, called him during his lifetime the Arca Testamenti, meaning "the living repository of the Holy Scriptures". Pope Pius XII, in proclaiming him a Doctor of the Church, declared St. Anthony the Evangelical Doctor. St. Anthony lived for a time in France, but chiefly in Italy, and died at Padua in 1231. 336 years after his death, his body was found corrupted, yet his tongue was perfectly intact. [Just as the teachings formed by it were perfectly articulated.]
The Life of St. Anthony
Anthony is one of the most popular saints in the Church. He is the patron of lost things and numerous other causes. In Brazil, he is considered a general of the army; he is the patron of the poor and has been recognized as a wonderworker from the moment of his death.
He was born in Portugal and entered the Augustinian monastery of Sao Vicente in Lisbon when he was fifteen. When news of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco reached him, he joined the Franciscans at Coimbra. At his own request, he was sent as a missionary to Morocco, but he became ill, and on his return journey his boat was driven off course and he landed in Sicily. He took part in St. Francis' famous Chapter of Mats in 1221 and was assigned to the Franciscan province of Romagna.
He became a preacher by accident. When a scheduled preacher did not show up for an ordination ceremony at Forli, the Franciscan superior told Anthony to go into the pulpit. His eloquence stirred everyone, and he was assigned to preach throughout northern Italy. Because of his success in converting heretics, he was called the "Hammer of Heretics" and because of his learning, St. Francis himself appointed him a teacher of theology. St. Anthony of Padua was such a forceful preacher that shops closed when he came to town, and people stayed all night in church to be present for his sermons. He became associated with Padua because he made this city his residence and the center of his great preaching mission.
After a series of Lenten sermons in 1231, Anthony's strength gave out and he went into seclusion at Camposanpiero but soon had to be carried back to Padua. He did not reach the city but was taken to the Poor Clare convent at Arcella, where he died. He was thirty-six years old, and the whole city of Padua turned out in mourning for his passing.
He was canonized within a year of his death and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints, Rev. Clifford Stevens.
Patron: Against shipwrecks; against starvation; against starving; American Indians; amputees; animals; asses; barrenness; boatmen; Brazil; diocese of Beaumont, Texas; domestic animals; elderly people; expectant mothers; faith in the Blessed Sacrament; Ferrazzano, Italy; fishermen; harvests; horses; Lisbon, Portugal; lost articles; lower animals; mail; mariners; oppressed people; Padua, Italy; paupers; poor people; Portugal; pregnant women; sailors; seekers of lost articles; shipwrecks; starvation; starving people; sterility; swineherds; Tigua Indians; travel hostesses; travellers; watermen.
Symbols: The Holy Child on a book; lilies; fishes; flask and crucifix, mule; money chest and human heart; heart (symbol of Christian charity); fire (for religious fervor); portrayed holding a book, bread, Infant Jesus and or a lily.
Almighty 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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Indulgenced Prayers for St. Anthony's Intercession
To thee we have recourse, most powerful worker of miracles, in whose breast burned a sublime fire of charity towards God and the poor. To thee, who wast deemed worthy to hold in thy arms the Infant Jesus Who chose to be born poor. To thee, full of confidence, we betake ourselves, that thou mayest pray to the good Jesus to have compassion on us in our great tribulations. Oh! obtain for us the favour which we humbly implore. (Here state the favour needed.) If thou dost obtain it for us, O glorious St. Anthony, we will offer thee bread for the poor whom thou didst love so greatly on earth. Amen
Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be...
O wonderful St. Anthony, glorious on account of the fame of thy miracles, and through the condescension of Jesus in coming in the form of a little Child to repose in thy arms; obtain for me of His bounty the grace, which I ardently desire from the depths of my heart. Thou who wast so compassionate towards miserable sinners, regard not the unworthiness of those who pray to thee, but the glory of God, that it may be once again magnified by thee to the salvation of my soul, in connection with the particular request for which I now ask with persevering earnestness. May this small offering of alms, which I make to thee in aid of the poor be a pledge of my gratitude and with them may it be one day granted to me, through the grace of Jesus Christ and thy intercession, to possess the kingdom of heaven. Amen.