St. Anthony’s Life
Born in Lisbon in A.D. 1195, St. Anthony, né Ferdinand, was the son of noble, God-fearing parents. He received a good education, and, at the age of fifteen, joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine which whom he studied Sacred Scripture and the writings of the Fathers. At around the age of 25, he became inspired by the Franciscans martyred in Morocco and decided to join their Order, taking the name "Anthony."
Illness prevented his going to Morocco, so he spent some time in Sicily, in Assisi, and then in Montepaolo his public life began: during the ordination of a group of Franciscan and Dominican friars, it was discovered that no one had been appointed to preach. The superior turned to the Dominicans first because they are the "Order of Preachers," but all declined, saying they were not prepared. So St. Anthony stepped up -- and began to teach so beautifully that word of his talents reached the ears of St. Francis, who blessed his work.
St. Anthony taught at Bologna, Montpellier, and Toulouse, but it was as a fearless orator (he became known as the "Hammer of the Heretics") and a miracle worker that he is most renowned.
Among these miracles:
- In Rimini, an ass which hadn't eaten in three days refused the oats placed before him, till he had knelt down and adored the Blessed Sacrament held in St. Anthony's hands. 1
- Some Italian heretics offered him poisoned food which he rendered harmless by the sign of the cross.
- On Holy Thursday, while preaching in the Church of St. Pierre du Queriox at Limoges, he remembered he had to sing the Divine Office in the choir. He bilocated, appearing among the friars to sing, and continued on with his preaching.
- Again while preaching in Limoges (in the square des creux des Arenes), he miraculously kept his audience dry from the rain.
- During the sermon at St. Junien, he rightfully predicted that the devil would cause the pulpit to break, but that everyone would be safe.
- Either in the province of Limousin at the Castle of Chateauneuf-la-Forêt, between Limoges and Eymoutiers or at Camposanpiero, near Padua, the Infant Jesus was seen by fellow friars visiting with St. Anthony in his room.
- On his way back to Italy after the death of St. Francis (3 October, 1226), he travelled through Provence where, tired from travel, he and his companions entered the house of a poor woman, who placed bread and wine before them. She had forgotten, though, to shut off the tap of the wine-barrel -- and as the wine was running out, one of Anthony's companions broke his glass. Anthony prayed, and the wine barrel was filled up again and the glass was made whole.
- Among his last sermons were those preached during Lent of 1231. Huge crowds of people -- 30,000 and more -- gathered to hear him. His powerful oratory -- and the fact that Anthony would appear to many of the people in visions urging repentance -- caused so great a number of people to want to repent, that there weren't enough priests to deal with them. These visions -- often taking place in dreams -- occurred after his death, too.