By Kelly Legg
This month we are learning some interesting history about St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. He was an influential Franciscan preacher and teacher and is typically portrayed holding the child Jesus, a lily and a book. St. Anthony is much-loved throughout the world and his intercessory powers are considered miraculous.
Legends about Anthony abound. But let’s turn to the known facts about him. Anthony was born in 1195 in Portugal to parents that belonged to one of the prominent families of the city. He received an excellent education from the Augustinian friars and joined the order.
When he was twenty-five, he heard that Christians were being martyred by the Moors in Morocco for their faith in Jesus. From then on, he felt a strong desire to die for his faith and he joined the Franciscans. He travelled to Africa to preach to the Moors but quickly became sick and had to return to Italy.
St. Anthony died in Italy in 1231 when he was just 36 years old of natural causes. After he died, people often prayed to him in times of physical as well as spiritual needs and many miracles have taken place through the intercession of St. Anthony. That is why he is called the “wonder-worker.”
Saint Anthony of Padua is also regarded as the patron saint of lost things. A little jingle goes like this, “St. Anthony, please look around; something is lost and must be found.” This attribution comes from an incident where a priest stole a valuable book of psalms St. Anthony was using. St. Anthony thought he had misplaced the book and prayed that the book would be returned. The priest who took the book had a very disturbing dream where an angry St. Anthony appeared before him demanded the return of the book. The next day, the priest personally returned the book to St. Anthony.
Saint Anthony was canonized by Pope Gregory IX, less than a year after his death. He was the second of the canonized Saints of the Franciscan Order, and perhaps the most popular of all the Saints in Christendom.
Stay tuned next month while we explore the life of St. Vitus.