Life of St. Anthony of Padua
Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal to Martin and Mary Bulhom and given the name Fernando at Baptism. His wealthy family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but for the sake of Christ he became a poor Franciscan priest.
When the remains of Saint Bernard and his companions, the first Franciscan martyrs, were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was moved to leave his order, enter the Friars Minor, and go to Morocco to evangelize. Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to Portiuncula. He lived in a cave at San Paolo, leaving only to attend Mass and sweep the nearby monastery. One day when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly traveling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France.
Although a gifted speaker, not everyone listened to him. Legend has it that one day, faced with deaf ears, Anthony went to the river and preached to the fishes. That, reads the traditional tale, got everyone‘s attention.
Anthony continued to preach as he taught the friars and assumed more responsibility within the Order. In 1226 he was appointed provisional superior of northern Italy, but still found time for contemplative prayer in a small hermitage. As his health began to fail, he asked to be relieved of his duties. However, he continued to expend his energy in preaching and hearing confessions. The crowds never stopped flocking to his churches.
Anthony died on June 13, 1231 at the age of 36 and having been a Franciscan for only 10 years. The following year, his friend Pope Gregory IX, moved by the many miracles that occurred at Anthony=s tomb, declared him a saint. In 1946, Anthony was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
Prayer in honor of Saint Anthony:
Father, You gave St. Anthony the wisdom and grace to live and preach the Gospel of Christ. Help us to live the Gospel life as he did. Fill our hearts with the love, that we may pursue unselfishly a sincere love of God and neighbor. May we be sensitive to your call and faithful to our baptismal promises. May we imitate the life and work of St. Anthony and create a new world where the love of Jesus will be the rule and not the exception. We make our prayer through Christ Our Lord. Amen.