Monday, June 13, 2005
Feast of St. Anthony of Padua  

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of the Friars Minor is a testimony to the fact that God's ways are not our ways. The man who was known as the "Hammer of Heretics" was hardly a physically impressive specimen. St. Anthony was short and squat and quiet and reserved. However, when he preached, he spoke with an eloquence and learning that moved hardened hearts to be converted. God used this Doctor of the Church to bring about many changes of heart throughout his short life that ended at age 36.

St. Anthony did not start out as a preacher, an Italian, or even a Franciscan. God kept redirecting St. Anthony's life in order that He might more fully use this gifted and holy man. St. Anthony was born Ferdinand de Bulhoes in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195. Although his parents desired that he be a nobleman, he entered the regular canons of St. Augustine at age 15. During his eight years as an Augustinian, he quietly studied and memorized Scripture and the Early Church Fathers. Upon seeing the bodies of five martyred Franciscan missionaries who were killed in Morocco, he was moved to join the Franciscans in order to become a missionary.

His attempt at missionary work failed when he became deathly ill soon after his arrival in Morocco in 1221. Instead he wound up in Italy where he met St. Francis of Assisi at a general meeting of the Friars Minor. He was assigned to the hermitage St. Paul near Forli where he served doing menial tasks including washing the dishes.

His quiet and reserved ways could only hide his gifts for so long as the Lord desired to use him in many powerful ways. When no one was prepared to give the speech following an ordination in Forli, St. Anthony was asked to speak however the Holy Spirit moved him. His initial reticence finally gave way, and he spoke letting the Holy Spirit guide him. His manner of speaking and his beautiful teaching on Scripture and the Fathers aroused considerable interest in the dish washing brother. Word got out and eventually the regional superior assigned St. Anthony to preach throughout Northern Italy.

The crowds packed into parishes and squares to hear the eloquence of St. Anthony. God powerfully worked through his gifts of oratory and learning as hearts were converted. Heretics repented of their sins. The rich and the powerful were moved to give generously and renounce lives of sin. Eventually, although concerned that the brothers would let learning for learning's sake replace devotion, St. Francis assigned St. Anthony to teach theology to the brothers. In the last five years of his life, St. Anthony resided in Padua where his preaching led to the reform of persons and laws.

He died in 1231. He was canonized on May 30, 1232 by Pope Gregory IX, and he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pius XII on January 16, 1946.

The link leads to information on St. Anthony's sermons.

Posted by David at 1:15 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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