Saint Anthony of Padua; Who Was He?

Anthony of Padua Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony was originally from Portugal.  As a young man, he entered a monastic community of the Canons of St. Augustine.  It was at the Augustinian monastery in Coimbra, that Anthony encountered the Franciscan friars.  He witnessed the return of the bones of the first martyred missionary friars from Morocco.  Inspired by the sacrifice of these friars, he joined the Franciscan Order, with the aim of going to Morocco himself.  On his arrival in Morocco, he became so ill that his brother friars put him on the first ship back to Portugal.  A severe Mediterranean storm blew the ship off course, and sent it all the way to Italy.  While there, he attended the 1221 Pentecost General Chapter, heard Francis of Assisi speak, and received an assignment to a hermitage near Bologna.  It was there, in 1222,  that it was discovered that Anthony had a gift for preaching.  He was sent out on preaching missions throughout northern Italy, and he brought many lapsed Catholics back to the faith.  He also received permission from St. Francis to instruct the friars in theology.

In 1224, he was sent into southern France on more preaching missions, which were successful again in bringing fallen away persons back to the Church.  He came back to Italy to take on the position of provincial minister.  In 1228, he finally arrived in Padua, there he continued his ministry of preaching and works of charity.

In 1231, he went to a local friary in the countryside, near Padua; he sensed that his life was drawing short.  At the friary, he asked that a tree house hermitage in a walnut tree,  be built for him.  It was there that he spent his time in prayer and contemplation.  On June 13, 1231, he became very ill, and asked his brother friars to return him to Padua.  On the way, he died.  His remains are entombed in a basilica church, dedicated to his name.

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