June 9, 2024

Dear Parish Family,

Thursday, June 13, is the Feast Day of Saint Anthony of Padua. One of the most famous disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi, he was a famous preacher and worker of miracles in his own day. Throughout the eight centuries since his death he has generously come to the assistance of the faithful who invoke him.  

Though his work was in Italy, he was born in Portugal. He first joined the Augustinian Order and then left it and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when he was 26 years old. The reason he became a Franciscan was because of the death of the first five Franciscan martyrs — Saint Bernard, Saint Peter, Saint Otho, Saint Accursius, and Saint Adjutus — who shed their blood for the Catholic Faith in 1220 at Morocco (North Africa) and whose bodies were brought to Anthony’s monastery on their way back for burial. Anthony became a Franciscan in the hope of becoming a martyr himself. He lived only ten years after joining the Franciscans. 

He spent his life preaching the Gospel and teaching the Truths of the Catholic Church. The number of those who came to hear him was sometimes so great that no church was large enough to accommodate and so he had to preach in the open air. People were moved by his preaching. Enemies were reconciled.  Thieves and robbers made restitution. Gossips recanted and apologized. Many who had stopped practicing the Faith returned to the Church. When Anthony came across people who would not listen to his preaching and the Faith he was teaching, he then went out and preached it to the fish in the lake or a river that he happened to be near. Above all, Anthony was a man of great prayer. He spent the day teaching and hearing confessions until late in the evening, then many hours of the night in conversation with God. Once a man, at who’s home Saint Anthony was spending the night, found him holding the Child Jesus in his arms surrounded with heavenly light. For this reason Saint Anthony is often depicted holding the Child Jesus.

In 1227, Saint Anthony was elected head of the Franciscans living in northern Italy. Due to his hard work and life of sacrifice and penance, he felt his strength failing him and prepared himself for death. After receiving the last Sacraments, he kept looking upward with a smile on his face. When he was asked what he saw there, he answered: “I see my Lord.” He died on June 13, 1231, being only thirty six years old. He was canonized less than one year later. 336 years after his death, his body was exhumed. Although it had gone through the natural process of decay, his tongue was totally incorrupt, so perfect the words that had been spoken with it. 

Countless miracles have occurred through Saint Anthony’s intercession. He’s known as the “finder of lost things.” Why? Because he brought many lost souls back to God.

Grace and peace,

Father Neil Sullivan