Saint Anthony of Padua is one of the most beloved saints in the Catholic Church. According to Catholic tradition, he was miraculously visited by the Child Jesus, and is commonly known as the discoverer of lost objects. This figure is an early example of an 18th century saint. At the age of 15, he joined the religious order of St.
Francis and two years later was sent to Coimbra to begin nine years of intense study. He was probably ordained a priest during this time. The young priest's life took a crucial turn when the bodies of the first five Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco. Now, in the presence of the queen and a large crowd, her remains were carried in solemn procession to the monastery of Ferdinand.
He was overjoyed and inspired to make a momentous decision - to adopt the habit of the Franciscan Order and take the name Anthony. Faithful to their promise, the Franciscans allowed Anthony to go to Morocco, to be a witness for Christ and also a martyr. But, as is often the case, the gift he wanted to give was not the gift that was going to be asked of him. He became seriously ill, and after several months, he realized that he had to go home. Saint Anthony is usually represented with the baby Jesus or a lily or a book or all three in his arms. Many people give handouts to St.
Anthony Bread, in thanksgiving to God for the blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. The life of Anthony of Padua is what the life of every Christian should be: a firm courage to face the ups and downs of life, the call to love and forgive, to worry about the needs of others, to face big and small crises and to have our feet firmly on the ground of totally trusting love and dependence on God. Despite their efforts, not everyone listened. Legend has it that one day, before deaf ears, Antonio went to the river and preached to the fish.
That, says the traditional tale, caught everyone's attention. Francis was cautious about the education his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians take pride in their sophisticated knowledge. Even so, if friars were to go out on the roads and preach to all kinds of people, they needed a firm foundation in Scripture and theology. At times, Anthony would leave Padua in search of greater solitude. He went to a place loved by Francis LaVerna, where Francis received the wounds of Jesus.
He also found a cave near the convent where he could pray in solitude. In poor health, and still a provincial superior in northern Italy, he went to the General Chapter in Rome and asked to be relieved of his duties. But later he was called to be part of a special commission to discuss certain issues of the Franciscan Rule with the Pope. Back in Padua, he preached his last and most famous Lenten sermons. The people were so big, sometimes thirty thousand people, that the churches couldn't support them, so they went to the squares or to the open fields. People waited all night to hear it. After the morning mass and sermon, he would hear confessions.
This sometimes lasted all day, as did their fast. The great energy he had spent during Lent 1231 left him exhausted. He went to a small town near Padua but seeing that death was near him he returned home where he died on June 13th 1231.