St. Anthony of Padua (Priest and Doctor)

St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was a Portuguese priest famous for his gifted preaching. He originally planned to join the Augustinian Order, but when he saw the bodies of the first Franciscans to be martyred for their faith, he was filled with an intense desire to become a missionary — and, he hoped, a martyr — himself.

After joining the Franciscans, he preached to the Moslems of North Africa for a time, but a serious illness forced his return to Europe. Anthony attended an ordination at a monastery; through an oversight, no one had been assigned to preach. When it was hurriedly suggested that Anthony do so, he humbly but hesitantly obeyed — with amazing results. Anthony’s years of prayer, study of Scripture, and poverty allowed God’s Spirit to speak through him in a very powerful way. His unprepared sermon was a sensation, and for the remaining nine years of his life, Anthony traveled about preaching, correcting errors, and upholding the Church’s true teachings. His words had an impact on both the learned and the simple, and helped many return to the faith.

A great Scripture scholar and theologian, Anthony was the first Franciscan to teach theology to the other friars. He died while still young, and was buried at Padua. St. Anthony was canonized the year after his death in 1231, and was later declared a Doctor (an eminent and reliable teacher) of the Church.

Lessons

1. God does not promise to fulfill all our desires, even our noble ones; St. Anthony’s vocation involved neither missionary work nor martyrdom, for God had something different in mind for him.

2. Anthony, who is revered as a helper in finding lost objects, discovered his own vocation of preaching by accident; things have a way of “turning up” for those who make a point of trusting in God.

3. It may take time to discover our true vocations; as St. Anthony wrote, “In His providence Christ conceals the saints in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.”

  • Guest

    I enjoyed your article on St Anthony, but have a few corrections.

    St Anthony did not preach in Africa to the moslems, but was ship-wrecked and returned to Europe. He actually had been a very well known scripture scholar in the Augustinian order in his native country. He was acting as the porter at the door when the first five Franciscan missionaries sent out by St Francis came to the door seeking shelter on their way to preach to the moslems in North Africa. Anthony (not his name until he became a Franciscan) was so inflamed with their evangelical spirit, and the report later that they had been martyred, it revived his earlier desire to become a missionary and martyr for the faith. When he ended up in Italy after his ship-wreck, he traveled north to where St Francis was holding his first general meeting of all the brothers on a plain, called the "council of the mats". At the end of the meeting, the brothers were given assignments, and as no one knew Anthony, St Francis from his sick bed imposed on some hermit brothers to accept him as their priest. He stayed with them for a few years until the famous first preaching incident, which he only agreed to when put under obedience.

    I appreciate your reference to St Anthony as someone who can help you find your vocation, as it reminded me of the help he gave me in that regard years ago. It also ties in with the devotion that they have for him, I believe in his native Portugal, as the saint who can help you find your true love. God Bless, and God be praised for His saint, Anthony!

  • Ndell1

    St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around,

    something is lost and can’t be found!

  • Laurie

    I value your work very much; I am happy to give to keep you goiung. Well done

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