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St. Anthony Padua

Feast day: June 13

Anthony was born in Lisbon to Martim Vicente de Bulhões and Teresa Pais Taveira (a descendant of Alfonso VI of Castile). He was a half-third cousin once removed of King Alfonso II of Portugal, and brother of Pedro Martins de Bulhões. This was a very rich family of nobility who wanted him to become educated, however these were not Anthony’s wishes.

His family arranged sound education for him at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, Anthony entered the Augustinian Abbey of St. Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon.

After his ordination, Anthony was placed in charge of hospitality in his abbey. In this role, in 1219, he came in contact with five Franciscans who were on their way to Morocco to preach to the Muslims there. Anthony was strongly attracted to the simple Gospel lifestyle of the Franciscan friars. In February 1220, news arrived that the five Franciscans had been martyred in Morocco. Anthony meditated on the heroism of these Franciscans. He wanted to obey God's call to leave everything and follow Him. Anthony obtained permission from his superiors to join the Franciscan order.

On the return trip to Portugal, his ship was driven by a storm to the coast of Sicily and he landed at Messina. From Sicily he made his way to Assisi and sought admission into a monastery in Italy, but met with difficulty on account of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned, out of pure compassion, to the rural hospice of San Paolo near Forli, Romagna, Italy. There he appears to have lived as a hermit and was put to work in the kitchen.

One day, on the occasion of an ordination, when a great many visiting Dominican monks were present, there was some misunderstanding over who should preach. The Franciscans naturally expected that one of the Dominicans would occupy the pulpit, for they were renowned for their preaching. The Dominicans, on the other hand, had come unprepared, thinking that a Franciscan would be the homilist. In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, who he suspected was most qualified, and told him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled, and his sermon created a deep impression. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers.

At that point, Anthony was commissioned by Brother Gratian, the minister provincial, to preach the Gospel throughout Lombardy, a region in northern Italy. From then on his skills were used to the utmost by the Church. Occasionally he took another post, as a teacher, but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift. In 1226, Pope Gregory IX hailed Anthony’s preaching as a "jewel case of the Bible" and he was commissioned to produce "Sermons for Feast Days."

Anthony became ill in 1231, went to the woodland retreat. There Anthony lived in a cell built for him under the branches of a walnut tree. Saint Anthony died on June 13, 1231 at the Poor Clare convent at Arcella at age 36.

When he died, it is said that the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord, rung by angels come to earth to honor the death of the saint. He is buried in a chapel.

Anthony of Padua is one of the most beloved of saints; his images and statues are ubiquitous. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on January 16, 1946, he is sometimes called "Evangelical Doctor". He is especially invoked for the recovery of lost things.

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