Saint Anthony was born in 1193 (or thenabout) in Portugal. He was christened Fernando. At the age of fifteen, he entered an Augustinian Monastery. Saint Anthony studied Theology, and was later ordained a priest.
Saint Anthony’s life changed when he witnessed the burial of five Franciscan Friars who were martyred while preaching to Muslims in Morocco. He was inspired, and decided that he too would try and convert the Muslims. On his journey his ship was blown off course and he landed in Italy, where he joined the Franciscan Order. Anthony was a gifted preacher, and was assigned to preach in Northern Italy. On one occasion, 30,000 came to hear him speak and proclaim the Word of God. Saint Anthony’s holiness made him a revered figure in Italy. Saint Anthony was also a noted theologian.
Saint Anthony became the patron saint of stolen and lost articles because of the following incident. A novice stole the saint’s prayer book, and the saint prayed that his beloved prayer book might be returned to him. As the thief was trying to hide the stolen book, a demon appeared and threatened him with an axe. The novice knew he had to return the book – which he did at once! Since then, countless Catholics have prayed to Saint Anthony for the return of lost and stolen goods.
In 1231, Saint Anthony died as he was traveling home to Padua. As he lay on his deathbed, he proclaimed, “I see my Lord!"
Saint Anthony was buried in Padua. He was canonized in 1232, only a year after his death.
There are many miracles attributed to Saint Anthony.
In 1263, a child died. A woman prayed to St Anthony, and the child rose from the dead.
About the same date, a young woman’s door was locked and she could not open it. She prayed to Saint Anthony, and the door sprang open. The woman then donated bread to the city’s poor to thank St. Anthony.
Saint Anthony preached forgiveness and total dependence upon God. He was and is an example to every Catholic. He was particularly interested in helping the poor:
“Charity is the soul of faith.”
The saint preached charity and living according to the Christian idea. He believed that piety should be expressed through our every action and deed.
Though few people know this, St. Anthony coined the phrase “Actions speak louder than words.”
Saint Anthony is still helping Catholics to this day, and countless numbers pray to him for help and guidance.