Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: June 13
Saint Anthony was born on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1195,
receiving the name of Fernando at Baptism.
His father, Martin de Bouillon, the governor of Lisbon, Portugal, was a
descendant of the Commander Godfrey of the First Crusade. His mother
Theresa was a descendant of Austrian kings. She dedicated her newborn
son to the Blessed Virgin Mary at his Baptism and he had a lifelong and
deep devotion to the Mother of God. His uncle was a priest and our
Saint served Mass for him and he was fervently devoted to the Blessed
When he was but fifteen St. Anthony entered the Canons Regular, where
he remained for ten years, studying Scripture and the writings of the
The bones of the first Franciscan Martyrs were brought to the monastery
in Coimbra, which inspired the Saint to be a missionary. In the summer
of 1220 at the monastery of the friars in Coimbra dedicated to St.
Anthony Abbot, Fernando received the Franciscan habit and took the name
of Anthony. Soon afterwards he was given permission to preach to the
Moslems in North Africa. He became very ill and sailed back to
Portugal. When he was recovered he went to a Franciscan meeting in
Assisi, Italy, where he met St. Francis, and thus came to join the
friars near Bologna.
Soon after he attended the ordination of several friars. The superior
asked one of the friars to preach but all the Dominicans and
Franciscans present declined except for our Saint who amazed everyone
with his marvelous sermon on Christ's obedience unto death on the Cross
and he was quickly given permission to preach throughout northern
Italy. He gained many converts who were not only attracted to his
sermons but his humility and simple manner of living. Two years later
he was sent to France to preach against the Albigensians, who were
heretics. Again his preaching was very effective and he won the acclaim
as 'The Hammer of Heretics". A number of Catholics who had fallen in
with the heretics came back to the faith. Anthony often had to speak to
heretics, who were misled by false doctrine and or error mixed in with
truth; and he knew that it was not enough to merely preach and preach
well, he must be an example by living as holy a life as possible which
would also strengthen him in his labors for Christ.
Learned, he taught theology combining St. Augustine's works, the Bible,
and the ideals of St. Francis, all of which took on the mark of the
Franciscan school of theology. Eventually the Church would recognize
him as a "Doctor of the Church" for his theology. However, he became
known most widely as a "Miracle-Worker", one so wondrous that he was
considered to be without comparison. He not only could command the
fishes of the sea, but he was able to restore severed limbs to those
who had lost a leg or arm, and even bring some back from death. And he
was exceedingly aware of the needs of the poor and there were miracles
of bread as well. As if this were not enough to hail him as one of the
world's greatest Saints [some say he is the most well known of Saints],
the Christ Child appeared to him one day when he was deep in prayer,
consenting to come into his arms.
In memory of this miraculous event, most images of St. Anthony show the
Franciscan holding a lily-----symbol of innocence and
holding the Child Jesus in his arms. Children are especially fond of
this Saint. And where the Christ child is, there is also His Holy
Mother Mary. One of his outstanding virtues was his tender, constant
devotion to her. As we said he was born on her Feast Day of the
Assumption, August 15, and thus his mother dedicated him to Our Lady.
The church where he was Baptized was named St. Mary of Lisbon, and in
the Church of St. Mary of Padua his body was laid to rest, surely no
coincidence. On June 13, 1231, at the age of 36 he fell very ill and
asked to be taken back to Padua from the lake region where he was at
the time. On the way to the friary he received the Last Sacraments and
shortly before he died he called out, "I see my Lord."
Anthony had not been death even a month when the Paduans asked Pope
Gregory IX to declare him a Saint. A commission was called to examine
his life and he was easily declared a Saint, eleven months later, with
the day of his death, June 13 designated for his Feast Day. That same
year the people of Padua began building a basilica named after him. A
basilica is a church with special honors and there are not that many in
the world, with only four in Rome itself.
This church was completed in 1263 and his remains were transferred
there. His tongue was still fresh and vibrant among his bones, no doubt
God's way of paying tribute to the Saint's preaching, and his ability
to speak of the love we ought to have for Mary. The great Franciscan,
St. Bonaventure, was present for that occasion and he said: "O blessed
tongue . . ."
Pope Leo XIII called st. Anthony, "The Saint of the world". In 1946
Pope Pius XII declared him a Doctor of the Church.
The image above depicts St. Anthony with the Child Jesus and in the
background is the basilica in Padua. The Saint holds the lily for
purity and the book for theology.
Prayer to St. Anthony
THIS PRAYER IS PART OF THE
PRAYER AND IS ALSO
KNOWN AS THE SHORT NOVENA PRAYER: IT IS PROBABLY THE MOST LOVED OF ALL
PRAYERS TO ST. ANTHONY
"Blessed be God in His
Angels and in His Saints"
O Holy St. Anthony,
gentlest of Saints, thy love for
God and Charity for His creatures, made thee worthy, when on earth, to
miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore thee to obtain
for me (request). O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever
full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet
Infant Jesus, Who didst love to be folded in thine arms; and the
my heart will ever be thine. Amen.