St. Anthony Mary Claret


December 23, 1807-October 24, 1870

Canonized in 1950
Patron of Weavers and Savings Banks

The well-liked Spanish priest Anthony Claret was the fifth of eleven children. His family was poor but hard working at the family trade of weaving. Anthony's earliest memories of home were the family's praying the Rosary and going to church which imbued him with a deep love and devotion to Jesus and Mary.

     By age twenty-one Anthony had been educated and was in much demand for his skill as a weaver. At one time he suffered because of poor health, and during the days of recovery he imagined himself as a Carthusian monk. Anthony went to the bishop for advice. The bishop suggested that he first go to the diocesan seminary and then, if he wished, leave and become a monk. Anthony followed this advice and enjoyed seminary life. He was ordained two years earlier than usual because of a civil war in Spain.

     Anthony finally realized that his health would prevent him from being a monk or a Jesuit missionary. He was sent to a small mountain village where he studied medicine and helped many of the sick. He discovered his power to read hearts and his ability to understand people.

     Anthony began a busy schedule of preaching throughout Spain. His gentle faith and great courage in spreading devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and in reviving devotion to the Eucharist made him a popular preacher. He also published a catechism that led the bishop of the Canary Islands to invite him to preach there for a year, fulfilling Anthony's dream to be a missionary.

     When Anthony returned to Spain, he founded a congregation called the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary [Claretians]. Then he was assigned as archbishop of Cuba. Not having had an archbishop for fourteen years, the island was in need of renewal. Anthony reorganized the seminary training, preached in all the churches, heard confessions, and guided people to Christ. He worked for updated farm methods and credit unions. He wanted the people to own their own farms, knowing that this would improve family life. He made enemies by teaching black slaves. Fifteen times people tried to assassinate him. Once a man stabbed him and was given a death sentence, but Anthony had this changed to a prison sentence.

    After eight years, Anthony was called to Spain to be Queen Isabella II's confessor: he would not live at the palace but come only to hear her confession and instruct the children. This freed him to open a religious publishing house and write more than two hundred books and pamphlets.

    In 1886 a revolution took place, and those associated with the court were accused of treason. Anthony fled to Rome where Vatican Council I was in session. There he defended the infallibility of the pope. Then he retired to a Cistercian monastery in France where he stayed in solitude until his death. His Feast Day is October 24.

Contact Us