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Fernando Martins de Bulhões, venerated as Anthony of Padua or Anthony of Lisbon, c. 1195 – 13 June 1231) is a Catholic saint who was born in Lisbonmarker, Portugalmarker to a wealthy family and who died in Paduamarker, Italymarker.

Early life

Anthony was born in Lisbon to Martim Vicente de Bulhões and wife Teresa Pais Taveira (a descendant of Alfonso VI of Castile, and thus a half-third cousin once removed of King Afonso II of Portugal, and brother of Pedro Martins de Bulhões (ancestor of the de Bulhão or de Bulhões family), in a very rich family of the nobility who wanted him to become educated; however, these were not his wishes. His family arranged sound education for him at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, Anthony entered the Augustinian Abbey of St. Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon. The Canons Regular of St. Augustine, of which he was a member, were famous for their dedication to scholarly pursuits. Anthony studied Scripture and the Latin classics.

Franciscans

After his ordination,St. Anthony was placed in charge of hospitality in his abbey. In this role, in 1219, he came in contact with five Franciscans who were on their way to Moroccomarker to preach to the Muslims there. Anthony was strongly attracted to the simple Gospel lifestyle of the Franciscan friars. In February 1220, news arrived that the five Franciscans had been martyred in Morocco. Anthony meditated on the heroism of these Franciscans. He wanted to obey God's call to leave everything and follow Him. Anthony obtained permission from his superiors to join the Franciscan order.

On the return trip to Portugal, his ship was driven by storm upon the coast of Sicily and he landed at Messina. From Sicily he made his way to Assisi and sought admission into a monastery in Italy, but met with difficulty on account of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned, out of pure compassion, to the rural hospice of San Paolo near Forlìmarker, Romagnamarker, Italy, a choice made after considering his poor health. There he appears to have lived as a hermit and was put to work in the kitchen.

One day, on the occasion of an ordination, when a great many visiting Dominican monks were present, there was some misunderstanding over who should preach. The Franciscans naturally expected that one of the Dominicans would occupy the pulpit, for they were renowned for their preaching; the Dominicans, on the other hand, had come unprepared, thinking that a Franciscan would be the homilist.

In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, who he suspected was most qualified, and engineered him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled, and his sermon created a deep impression. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers.

At that point, Anthony was commissioned by Brother Gratian, the minister provincial, to preach the Gospel throughout Lombardy, a region in northern Italy. From then on his skills were used to the utmost by the Church. Occasionally he took another post, as a teacher, for instance, at the universities of Montpelliermarker and Toulousemarker—both in southern France—but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift.

In 1226, after attending the Franciscan chapter at Arlesmarker, France, and preaching in the French region of Provence, Anthony returned to Italy and served as envoy from the general chapter to Pope Gregory IX. At the Papal court, his preaching was hailed as a "jewel case of the Bible" and he was commissioned to produce "Sermons for Feast Days."

Anthony became ill with dropsy and, in 1231, went to the woodland retreat at Camposampieromarker with two other friars for a respite. There Anthony lived in a cell built for him under the branches of a walnut tree. Saint Anthony died on 13 June 1231 at the Poor Clare convent at Arcella on the way back to Padua at age of 36.

When he died, it is said that the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord, rung by angels come to earth to honour the death of the saint. He is buried in a chapel, and to this day his tongue is in a reliquary, and is incorrupt although he is not an incorruptible. It glistens and looks as if it is still alive and moist.

Recognition

Anthony of Lisbon (or Padua) is known to have become the "quickest" saint in the history of the Catholic Church because he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX less than one year after his death on the 30th of May of 1232.

His fame spread as much as the Portuguese envangelization and he has been known as the most celebrated of the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of Paduamarker, of Italymarker and of many other cities in Portugalmarker and in the countries of the former Portuguese Empire. He is especially invoked for the recovery of lost things.

Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on January 16, 1946, he is sometimes called "Evangelical Doctor".

Each year on the weekend of the last Sunday in August, Boston's North End holds a feast in honor of St. Anthony. Referred to as the "Feast of all Feasts", St. Anthony's Feast in Boston's North End was begun in 1919 by Italian immigrants from Montefalcione, a small town near Naples, where the tradition of honoring St. Anthony goes back to 1688. The feast has become the largest Italian religious festival in the United States.

On January 27, 1907 in Beaumont, Texasmarker, a church was dedicated and named in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. The church was later designated a cathedral in 1966 with the formation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Beaumont, but was not formally consecrated. On April 28, 1974, St Anthony Cathedral was dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Warren Boudreaux. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI granted St. Anthony Cathedral the designation of minor basilica. St. Anthony Cathedral Basilicamarker celebrated its 100th anniversary on January 28, 2007.

Seventeenth century Spanishmarker missionaries came across a small Native American community along what was then known as the Yanaguana River on the feast day of Saint Anthony and renamed the river and eventually a mission built nearbymarker in his honor. This mission became the focal point of a small community that eventually grew in size and scope to become the city of San Antonio, Texasmarker.

St. Anthony is known in Brazilmarker and Portugal as a marriage saint, because legend has him as one who conciliated couples. His feast day, June 13, is Lisbon's municipal holiday, celebrated with parades and marriages of humble couples, and he is one of the saints celebrated in the Brazilian Festa Junina (along with John the Baptist and Saint Peter). The previous day, June 12, is the Brazilian Valentine's Day.

In Uvarimarker, in Tamil Nadumarker, India, the church of St. Anthony is home to an ancient wooden statue that is said to have cured the entire crew of a Portuguese ship suffering from cholera. St Anthony is said to perform many miracles daily, and Uvari is visited by pilgrims of different religions from all over South India.

References

  • Attwater, Donald and John, Catherine Rachel, and Headley, Cooper. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.




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