St Anthony Mary Zaccaria

Genesis 21.5,8-20; Psalm 33; Matthew 8.28-34

Anthony was born in 1502 in Cremona to a noble family. His father died when he was 2 years old. He studied medicine at the University of Padua and then returned in 1520 to Cremona where he practiced medicine for three years until he decided to study for the priesthood and was sent to Bologna. In 1530 he followed Countess Ludovico Torelli to Milan. She had engaged him as her spiritual director, and, along with several others, they formed the Oratory of Divine Wisdom, with devotions based on the life and St Paul and an emphasis on love for the Eucharist and for the Passion of Jesus. They were joined by others, and preached missions in parishes and street corners, alongside work caring for the sick in hospitals. They rang the church bells every Friday afternoon at 3, in commemoration of the Passion of Christ. After receiving papal approbation for their work, they took the name of Barnabites, after
St Barnabas, the companion of St Paul.

Whilst on a mission to Guastalla in 1539 St Anthony contracted a fever and died. Along with the Barnabites, he had laid the foundation for two other religious institutes: the Angelic Sisters of St Paul, an uncloistered order for women; and a lay congregation for married people, the Laity of St Paul. After his death a number of miraculous cures were attributed to his intercession, and 27 years after his death his body was found to be incorrupt. His mortal remains are enshrined in the Church of St Barnabas in Milan; he was canonised in 1897.

Posted in Daily Reflection.