St Anthony of Padua

I Kings 18.41-46; Psalm 64; Matthew 5.20-26

Fernando Martins de Bulhões was born to a wealthy family in Lisbon in 1195.  At the age of 15 he was received into the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross.  In 1212 he asked to be transferred to the order’s motherhouse, in Coimbra, then the capital of Portugal.  There he encountered a group of Franciscans who had established a hermitage, and he was impressed by their simple faith and evangelical poverty; he asked to leave the Canons Regular and join them.  (The Franciscan Order had only been established in 1209.)  He took the new name of Anthony in honour of the 3rd-4th Century Egyptian saint often referred to as the Father of monasticism.  He set out for Morocco, but fell ill and set sail to return to Portugal.  His ship was blown off course and landed in Sicily.  Always in poor health, he travelled through Italy finally coming to settle in Bologna.  

Anthony was renowned for his profound scriptural and theological knowledge and for his rhetorical skill as a preacher.  Francis of Assisi put him in charge of the theological education of young friars.  In 1226 he was appointed Provincial Superior for northern Italy and chose Padua as his provincial headquarters.  He died in 1231 at the age of 35 at a woodland retreat house near Padua.  Less than a year later he was canonised, one of the most rapid canonisations in history.  Pope Pius XII declared him a Doctor (teacher) of the Church in 1946.

Posted in Daily Reflection.