Saint Anthony of Padua

Doctor of the Church

1195 - 1231

Feast Day: June 13

Also known as: Saint Anthony of Lisbon; Santo António de Lisboa

Anthony of Padua is a Catholic saint, who was born August 15, 1195 near Lisbon, to a wealthy family and given the name Fernando. He was sent to the cathedral school in Lisbon, but in 1210, at the age of 15 he entered the Augustinian monastery of Sao Vicente in Lisbon, against the wishes of his family. But in their monastery near his native city he was distracted by visits from relatives and friends. After two years, Fernando asked to be transferred. He was sent to Holy Cross in Coimbra, a great center of learning and capital of Portugal at that time.

He devoted the next eight years of his life to study and prayer, immersing himself in Sacred Scripture.

When news of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco reached him, he joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when he was 26 years old. At his own request, he was sent as a missionary to Morocco with the mission of preaching among the Moors. He had to return to Europe because of ill health. After this, St Anthony was moved to Romagna (Italy) and spent 9 months as a chaplain to hermits. He was so modest that he thought nothing of spending his days carrying on the lowliest duties of the kitchen and convent. But the Lord had bigger plans for this holy man. At an ordination ceremony, the priest who was about to give the sermon fell ill suddenly and St Anthony was called upon to give the sermon in his place. Although he refused with humility at first, he eventually had to do so because of his vow of obedience to his superior. The rest as they say, is history!

The last two years of his life he spent in Padua, preaching, hearing confessions and working to help the poor. St. Antony died on June 13th, 1231 at Arcella, a suburb of Padua in the apartment reserved for the chaplain of the sisterhood of Poor Clares of Arcella. There he received the last rites and died. He was only 36.

Saint Anthony was canonized in 1232 by Pope Gregory IX and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946. He holds the record for the second fastest canonization in history: he was declared a saint 352 days after his death. In 1263, a basilica was built in his honour.

He was above all the greatest preacher of the middle ages and one of the finest orators of all time. Today he is one of the most famous saints and is often called upon by Catholics to help find lost possessions. Saint Anthony of Padua is usually sculpted or portrayed holding the child Jesus, or a lily or a book, or all three, in his arms. A bank of vigil lights will burn in front of the statue.

Patron Saint: associated with the return of lost articles and missing persons.

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