Saint Of The Month
Antony Of Padua
Antony of Padua was small in stature and even chubby. In statues he often carries the child Jesus and a lily. Yet he was one of the most powerful preachers of the thirteenth century, had a voice that could carry for leagues, it seems, and could by his brilliant personality overwhelm the sinful and make them turn to God.
Until the age of twenty-five he lived a quiet life as a canon in Portugal, where he had been born in 1195. It was his ambition to convert Moslems to Christianity, but the moment he arrived in Morocco Antony fell so ill that he had no choice but to return home.
The ship he was traveling in was blown off course and landed in Sicily. For a while he lived as a hermit near Forli. One day some Franciscans arrived for an act of worship, but no one had prepared a sermon so Antony stood up and preached and his remarkable talent was discovered. Antony was commissioned by the head of his order to preach the Gospel throughout Lombardy. From then on his skills were used to the uttermost by the Church. Occasionally he took another post, as a teacher, for instance, at the Universities of Montpellier and Toulouse, but always he was recalled to missionize in Italy.
By the time he died, aged no more than thirty-six, on 13 June 1231, his fame was assured. He was canonized within a year. His body was enshrined at Padua, and a great basilican church was begun in 1232. Fittingly for one who had hoped to work in Morocco, the building was done and a bell-tower built like an Arab minaret. Antony's tomb lies behind the altar of his chapel in the north transept of this Basilica di Sant'Antonio, with nine superb reliefs lining the walls.
Prayer to St. Anthony of Padua
O Holy St. Anthony,
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