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St Anthony of Padua - Santo Antônio de Pádua

Franciscan Priest & Doctor of the Church
Born on 15 August 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal; died on 13 June 1231 in Padua, Italy. 
Canonised on 30 May 1232 in Spoleto, Italy by Pope Gregory IX; proclaimed Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946
Major Shrine: Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, Italy
Feast Day - 13th June

3 2us by Father Anthony Meredith SJ     

"So marvellous was St Anthony's preaching that the churches in Northern Italy weren't large enough to contain the crowds that wanted to hear him preach. He did preach remarkably and this fact is recorded. Not only did he write out many of his sermons, which are still preserved, but the animals also wanted to hear him preaching and apparently even the fish poked up their heads out of the water to hear him."

The Incredibles     

Senam, who's 13 & from Ghana: "I chose St Anthony for my confirmation and he's just the one for me. I think he's special because at a young age his family wasn't really into God that much. All they knew about was spoiling him with gifts and riches. But it was his decision to take God in his life and that's a very strong point for him."

Cecily, who's 20 & from Germany: "My favourite saint is Saint Anthony as I lose a lot of things and pray to him very often. Nearly all my things come back to me and I admire the work he does for me."

Catechesis by Papa Benedict XVI      
General Audience, Wednesday 10 February 2010 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Dear brothers and sisters,
Two weeks ago I presented the figure of St Francis of Assisi. This morning I would like to speak about another saint belonging to the first generation of Friars Minor: Anthony of Padua or,
as he is also called, of Lisbon, in reference to his native city. He is one of the most popular saints in the whole of the Catholic Church, venerated not only in Padua, where a splendid Basilica has been built containing his mortal remains, but in the whole world. Dear to the faithful are the images and statues that represent him with a lily, symbol of his purity, or with the Child Jesus in his arms, in memory of a miraculous apparition mentioned by several literary sources.

Anthony contributed significantly to the development of Franciscan spirituality, with his remarkable gifts of intelligence, equilibrium, apostolic zeal and, principally, mystic fervour.

He was born
in Lisbon into a noble family, around about 1195, and baptized with the name of Fernando. He entered the Canons who followed the monastic rule of St Augustine, first in the monastery of St Vincent in Lisbon and, later, in that of the Holy Cross in Coimbra, the renowned cultural centre in Portugal. He dedicated himself with interest and solicitude to the study of the Bible and of the Church Fathers, acquiring a theological science that was to bear fruit in his teaching and preaching activities. In Coimbra the episode took place that marked a decisive turning point in his life: it was there that, in 1220, the relics were exposed of the first five Franciscan missionaries, who had gone to Morocco, where they had suffered martyrdom. Their life stories aroused in young Fernando the desire to imitate them and advance on the path(way) of Christian perfection: he thus asked to leave the Augustinian Canons and become a Friar Minor. His request was accepted and, having taken the name Anthony, he too left for Morocco, but divine Providence arranged otherwise. Following an illness, he was forced to return to Italy and, in 1221, participated in the famous "Chapter of mats" in Assisi, where he also met St Francis. Subsequently he lived for some time in total hiding in a convent near Forlì, in the north of Italy, where the Lord called him to another mission. Invited, through totally random circumstances, to preach on the occasion of a priestly ordination, he revealed himself to be endowed with such knowledge and eloquence that his Superiors appointed him to preaching. It was thus that in Italy and France he began apostolic work so intense and efficacious/effective as to lead numerous people who had detached themselves from the Church to retrace their steps. Anthony was also among the first theology teachers of the Friars Minor, if not the first. He began his teaching in Bologna, with the blessing of St Francis who, recognizing Anthony's virtues, sent him a short letter which opened with these words: "I would like you to teach theology to the friars". Anthony laid the foundations of Franciscan theology which, cultivated by other outstanding thinkers, was to reach its peak with Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and Blessed Duns Scotus.

Having become provincial superior of the Friars Minor of northern Italy, he continued his ministry of preaching, alternating it with the tasks of governance. When his task as Provincial ended, he withdrew close to Padua, where he had already gone previous times. After just a year, he died at the city gates on 13 June 1231. Padua, which had welcomed him with affection and veneration during his lifetime, has always since given him honour and devotion. Pope Gregory IX, who, after having heard him preach had described him as the "Ark of the Testament", canonized him only a year after his death,
in 1232, following the miracles that occurred through his intercession.

In the last period of his life, Anthony put in writing two cycles of "Sermons", entitled respectively "Sunday Sermons" and "Sermons on the Saints", destined for the preachers and teachers of theological studies of the Franciscan Order. In these Sermons he comments on the texts of Scripture presented by the Liturgy, using the patristic-medieval interpretation of the four senses: the literal or historical sense, the allegorical or Christological
sense, the tropological or moral sense, and the anagogical, which is orientated/leads to eternal life. Today it has been rediscovered that these senses are dimensions of the unique meaning of Sacred Scripture and that it is right to interpret Sacred Scripture by seeking the four dimensions of its word. These sermons by St Anthony are theological-homiletical texts, which echo the living preaching, in which Anthony proposes a true itinerary of Christian life. So great was the richness of the spiritual teachings contained in the "Sermons" that in 1946 Venerable Pope Pius XII proclaimed Anthony a Doctor of the Church, attributing to him the title "Evangelical Doctor", because the freshness and beauty of the Gospel emerge from these writings; today too we can read them with great spiritual profit.

In these sermons St Anthony speaks of prayer as a relationship of love, that urges/prompts man to speak gently with the Lord, creating an ineffable joy that tenderly envelops the soul in prayer. Anthony reminds us that prayer needs an atmosphere of silence, which does not coincide with distance from external noise but is an interior experience, that aims to remove the distractions caused by the preoccupations of the soul, creating silence in the soul itself. According to the teaching of this eminent Franciscan Doctor, prayer is articulated in four indispensable attitudes which, in the Latin of Anthony, are defined thus: obsecratio, oratio, postulatio, gratiarum actio. We could translate them in the following way: to open one's own heart
trustingly to God; this is the first step of prayer, not simply to take a word but to open one's heart to the presence of God; then to converse affectionately with Him, seeing Him present with me; and then - a very natural thing - to present our needs to Him; finally, to praise and thank Him.

St Anthony's teaching on prayer we grasp one of the specific traits of Franciscan theology, of which he was the initiator, that is, the role assigned to divine love, which enters into the sphere of the affections, the will, the heart, and which is also the source from which flows a spiritual knowledge, that surpasses all knowledge. Indeed, by loving, we know.

Anthony writes more: "Charity is the soul of faith, it renders it living; without love, faith dies" (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi II, Messaggero, Padova 1979, p 37).

Only a soul that prays can make progress in the spiritual life: this is the privileged object of St Anthony's preaching. He knew well the defects of human nature, our tendency to fall in sin, which is why he continually exhorts us to fight the inclination to greed, to pride, to impurity, and to practise instead the virtues of poverty and generosity, of humility and obedience, of chastity and purity. At the beginning of the XIII century, in the context of the rebirth of cities and the flourishing of commerce, the number of people insensitive to the needs of the poor grew. For this reason, Anthony repeatedly invites the faithful to think about true richness, that of the heart, which rendering them good and merciful, makes treasures accumulated for Heaven. "O rich " - thus he exhorts ' "make friends with... the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will be them, the poor, who will subsequently welcome you in the eternal tabernacles, where there is the beauty of peace, the assurance of security and the opulent stillness/tranquillity of eternal satiety" (ibid, p 29).

Is not this, dear friends, a very important teaching today as well, when the financial crisis and the serious economic imbalances impoverish numerous people and create conditions of misery? In my encyclical Caritas in veritate I recall: "
For its correct functioning, the economy needs ethics; not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics that is friend of the person" (n 45).

Anthony, at the school of Francis, always places Christ at the centre of his life and thinking, of his action and preaching. This is another typical trait of Franciscan theology: Christocentrism. It willingly contemplates and invites one to contemplate the mysteries of the humanity of the Lord, the man Jesus, in a particular way the mystery of the Nativity, God who made himself Child, gave himself into our hands: a mystery that arouses feelings of love and gratitude towards divine goodness.

On the one hand the Nativity, a central point of Christ's love for humanity, but equally the vision of the Crucified One inspires in Anthony thoughts of gratitude to God and of esteem for the dignity of the human person, thus that everyone, believers and non-believers, can find in the Crucified One and in his image a meaning that enriches life. St Anthony writes: "Christ, who is your life, is hanging before you, so that you may look in the cross as in a mirror. There you will be able to know how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine
could heal except that of the blood of the Son of God. If you look closely, you will be able to realize how great are your human dignity and your worth .... In no other place can man better realise how much he is worth than by looking at himself in the mirror of the cross" (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, p 213-214).

In meditating upon these words we can better understand the importance of the image of the Crucified One for our culture, for our humanism born of Christian faith. Precisely by looking at the Crucified One we see, as St Anthony says, how great is human dignity and man's worth. At no other point can we understand how much man is worth, precisely because God renders us thus important, sees us thus important, as to be, for Him, worthy of his suffering; thus all human dignity appears in the mirror of the Crucified One and the gaze upon Him is always the source of the recognition of human dignity.

Dear friends, may Anthony of Padua, so revered by the faithful, intercede for the entire Church and above all for those who are dedicated to preaching; let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to learn a little of St Anthony's art. May preachers, by drawing inspiration from his example, have care to unite solid and sound doctrine, sincere and fervent piety, incisiveness in communication. In this Year for Priests, let us pray that priests and deacons will perform with solicitude this ministry of the announcement and actualisation of the Word of God to the faithful, above all through liturgical homilies. That these may be an efficacious presentation of the eternal beauty of Christ, just as Anthony recommended: "If you preach Jesus, he will melt hard hearts; if you invoke Him, He will sweeten bitter temptations; if you think of Him, He will illuminate your heart; if you read of Him, He will satisfy your mind" (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, p 59).