Facts About My Favorite Saint: St. Anthony de Padua
Why is he one of my favorite saints?
It is very true that whenever I need to find a missing article, I invoked St. Anthony’s help and viola! With his help, I find the thing immediately. He answers my prayers real fast.
One day, my husband was sitting on the couch watching TV. He took off his eye glasses and cleaned it with his handkerchief. He got up for drink of water. When he sat down, he could not find his glasses. He looked all over the couch, tipped the couch back to look underneath - no glasses. He looked at the side tables, retraced his steps to the kitchen - no eye glasses. He called for me, told me what happened and asked for my help. Again, we did what he had done earlier, searched the couch, tipped it back. None… I suggested we pray to St. Anthony to help us in our search. We held hands and closed our eyes and said – “please, St. Anthony , help us find the glasses.” As soon as we opened our eyes, guess what? The glasses were just on top of the couch! I mean, hello! We searched the couch! We thanked St. Anthony and knew that we can rely on him for help. Of course, we thanked Father God for giving us good and helpful saints.
St. Anthony de Padua, his real name was Fernando Martins de Bulhoes. He was born on 15 August 1195 at Lisbon, Portugal. He came from a very rich and noble family. His father, Martin Vicente de Bulhoes, owned almost half the town they lived in and was also into business and politics; his mother, Teresa Pais Taveira, is a third cousin of King Alfonso II of Portugal.
Fernando Martins de Bulhoes’ early education was spent in Lisbon’s local cathedral school. When he turned 15, in the year 1210, Fernando entered the convent of St. Vincent, just outside the city of Lisbon. It was at this time that he seriously studied Latin and Theology.
Becoming a Franciscan Monk
Around the year 1219, Fernando Martin de Bulhoes who was already an ordained priest in the Augustinian order was introduced to five Franciscan friars. The five monks were on their way to convert the Sultan of Morocco and to spread the Catholic Gospel to the Muslims living in that country. At that visit, the five friars became friends of Fernando Martins de Bulhoes.
A year later, news spread that the five friars were martyred. The martyrdom caused a deep stirring within Fernando Martins de Bulhoes, who wanted to do more than say prayers almost all day long. He too longed for martyrdom and service. He wanted to show he love God so much.
And so, in that year (1220), Fernando Martins de Bulhoes left the Augustinian order and joined the Franciscan monks. Hence, the name changed – Anthony.
Along the way to Morocco, St. Anthony got so sick. The ship had to sail him back, but because of the storm, they landed in Messina, Sicily. There, St. Anthony found some Franciscan Friars who were on their way to Assisi. On May 23, 1221, he was among them who attended the great meeting on Pentecostal Day and also heard St. Francis de Assisi whisper his admonitions to the friars.
The Character & Personality of St. Anthony
According to many of his peers during the early part of his priesthood, they described St. Anthony as very simple and plain, having a servitude character, very humble. At the great meeting of the friars, St. Anthony was not given much attention because of his plainness and meekness. By the time the great meet was over, Friar Gratian sent him to a hermitage in Monte Paolo, Italy. There, St. Anthony was tasked to do menial jobs like cleaning the convent, some simple cooking, doing the dishes, feeding the animals and tending the garden. He lived in the hermitage for 11 months straight. Then things began to change.
What the friars did not know at that time, St. Anthony sought higher and further learning by himself on Catholic theology, the Bible, the Catholic dogmas. He did spiritual reflections in a cave near the hermitage and spent a lot of time there praying and meditating. He made an effort of truly listening to superiors, co-brothers and the townspeople.
The Start of St. Anthony’s Preaching:
One day, St. Anthony and other Franciscan and Dominican friars were invited to an ordination ceremony. So, the friars trekked to Forli, which is approximately 10 miles from the hermitage of Monte Paolo where they resided.
On the day of the ordination ceremony, almost all friars were attendance. Then it was discovered to their dismay, that there was nobody appointed to say the sermon and/or do the preaching! The head of the event asked and begged the friars if they can give an impromptu sermon. Of course, nobody was prepared; hence the friars declined to give the preaching.
Over the commotion of the realization there was nobody appointed to preach, it was then, that St. Anthony was noticed because he did not say anything. He just sat among the friars, without any reaction. So, the leader of the ceremony appointed St. Anthony to be the speaker. Being obedient, he went to the pulpit.
“Oh my goodness!” – was the reaction of all friars who heard him speak. Everybody was so amazed that St. Anthony gave a moving and profound speech. No one thought that he is knowledgeable and can talk with such sublime fervor!
Of course, the Franciscan friars immediately informed the head and founder of their congregation, of how great St. Anthony is as a preacher! So, St. Anthony got a letter which started a change in his monkhood’s obligations and duties. This was the letter:
I Brother Francis send wishes of health to Brother Anthony, my bishop. It pleases me that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, as long as in the words of the Rule you "do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion" with study of this kind.
Interesting Facts on St. Anthony:
☺He is known as the Friday the 13th Saint because he died on June 13, 1231 which was a Friday.
☺ He was canonized on May 30, 1232 by Pope Gregory IX, making him one of the saints who became saint quickly.
☺He is known as the Evangelical Doctor since his proclamation as Doctor of the Church in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.
☺ He is the saint that can be relied to fight starvation.
☺St. Anthony’s tongue was and is still fresh since it was exhumed 30 years after his death to be transferred to Padua.
Legends about St. Anthony:
*****A novice got tired of the convent life and wanted to get out. Wanting to really get out of the seminary, he did a bad, bad thing. He stole St. Anthony’s Psalter. Upon learning that his Psalter was missing, St. Anthony prayed. Very soon after, the novice suddenly developed a conscience! He returned the Psalter AND repented AND became more passionate with his commitment as a Franciscan friar.
*****A nobleman named Count Tiso, was riding his horse on the way home to his estate which was near the hermitage. It was very dark in the forest. But to his amazement, his path was well lit up! He looked where the light would come from. He found it! The glow came from St. Anthony’s cottage! It was so bright that he clearly saw St. Anthony was having a jolly conversation with a child – the Holy Child… then, Count Tiso believed.
*****Another legend is, the townsfolk saw many times that whenever St. Anthony is tending the garden and walking by the woods, they would see a child in his presence – a different kind of child, someone who does not belong with them. There is also a calming effect to see the Child and St. Anthony together tending the garden, feeding the animals and catching fish, and even reading a book.
St. Anthony, Patron of:
* Lost Articles
* Shipwrecks and Travelers
The Miracles by St. Anthony:
<<<<< The conversion of Ezzelino da Romano – he is known as a cruel tyrant who had men killed in Verona. St. Anthony approached and reproached him. The guards of Ezzelino waited for orders to kill St. Anthony. Instead, the tyrant prostrated himself before St. Anthony, confessed his sins and reformed his ways. He even told his guards what he saw – that St. Anthony’s face showed him the difference of what is hell and what is Divine Splendor.
<<<<< The miracle of the missing foot – Leonardo was a man from Padua who is brutal and quick to anger. He went to confession and told St. Anthony that his mother had a bad fall because he kicked her in anger. St. Anthony told Leonardo a phrase in the Bible that state: cut the part which causes you to sin. In his stupidity, but with sincerity in his confession, Leonardo went home and cut his foot! St. Anthony hearing about what Leonardo did went to him and explained more about the phrase and performed a miracle – he reattached Leonardo’s foot!
<<<<< Miracle in the rains – St. Anthony is known for that. Like one time, during his preaching in the Square des Creux des Arenes at Limoges, the rain suddenly came, but his audience remained dry. Another miracle with the rain was during his stay in the convent which he founded in Brive, France. Upon learning of St. Anthony’s arrival, a benefactress ordered her maid to pick up vegetables from the garden to give to the friars. It was raining so hard, and yet, the maid remained dry.
Another famous miracle involved the defense of the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist. (The same story is told with different antagonists — one a Jewish merchant, the other, a heretic named "Bonillo"; for this article, the former will be used.) The Jewish merchant challenged St. Anthony to prove the "fable" of the holy Eucharist and devised a contest. The merchant would starve a donkey for three days, denying it any kind of food. Meanwhile, St. Anthony retreated to the forest where he would fast and pray for three days. At the end of the three days, St. Anthony returned to town, and went to the church where he obtained the Blessed Sacrament. He then went to the town square where the donkey was. The merchant placed a bale of hay 20 feet from the hungry donkey. The donkey was untied and walked toward the hay. St. Anthony then exposed the Blessed Sacrament and called to the donkey, "Mule, in the name of the Lord our God, I command you to come here and adore your Creator!" The donkey stopped as though someone had pulled him by a bridle, turned and walked to St. Anthony. The donkey bent his forelegs, bowing to the Blessed Sacrament with his head toward the ground. The Jewish merchant was astonished, asked St. Anthony for forgiveness and converted. These and other miracles during and after St. Anthony’s death merited him the name, "Miracle Worker." http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/st_anthony.htm
Devotion to St. Anthony de Padua by Norman Perry, O.F.M., Seasonal Features, http://www.americancatholic.org/features/anthony/0-86716-202-3_np.asp, Date Retrieved: 10/13/11
St. Anthony, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_of_Padua Date Retrieved: 10/13/11.
The Life of St. Anthony by John Cooper, ofm cap., Capuchin Friars of Australia, http://www.capuchinfriars.org.au/saints/ Date Retrieved: 10/13/11.
Miracles and Traditions of St. Anthony by Franciscan Friars, Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Anthony Shrine, Date Retrieved: 10/13/11.
A Letter to St. Anthony by Saint Francis de Assisi, The Franciscans, http://www.franciscanfriarstor.com/archive/stfrancis/stf_st_francis'_letter_to_anthony.htm Date Retrieved: 10/13/11.
St. Anthony: Patron of Lost Things by Fr. William P. Saunders, Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/st_anthony.htm Date Retrieved: 10/13/11
The Directory of Saints: Ac Concise Guide to Patron Saints by Annette Sandoval c. 1996 Pub. Dutton, Penguin Group Books, USA
Saints: Lives and Illuminations, written and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson c. 2007 William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., UK
A Saint For All Reasons – A Pocket Bible of 100 Saints For Every Situation by Tim Muldoon c. 2010 Ivy Press Ltmd. USA