St. Anthony of Padua – part 4

anthony-padua2Miracles and Traditions of St. Anthony. St. Anthony Bread is a term used for offerings made in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. Sometimes the alms are given for the education of priests. In some places parents also make a gift for the poor after placing a newborn child under the protection of St. Anthony. It is a practice in some churches to bless small loaves of bread on the feast of St. Anthony and give them to those who want them.

Different legends or stories account for the donation of what is called St. Anthony Bread. By at least one account it goes back to 1263, when it is said a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony, which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer and promise were rewarded with the boy’s return to life. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 3

tn_anthony-padua1Public Preacher, Franciscan Teacher. Anthony’s superior, St. Francis, was cautious about education such as his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians taking pride in their sophisticated knowledge leading to an abandonment of their commitment to a life of real poverty. In Anthony, however, he found a kindred spirit for his vision, who was also able to provide the teaching needed by young members of the order who might seek ordination. Francis wrote in 1224, “It pleases me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, provided that in such studies they do not destroy the spirit of holy prayer and devotedness, as contained in the Rule.” He thereby entrusted the pursuit of studies for any of his friars to the care of Brother Anthony. 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 Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 2

tn_anthony-padua1Before He Was Anthony of Padua.  Anthony of Padua was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões on August 15, 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. His was in a very rich family of the nobility who wanted him to become educated, and they arranged for him to be instructed at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, however, at the age of 15 he entered the community of Canons Regular at the Abbey of St. Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon. Monastery life was hardly peaceful for young Fernando, nor conducive to prayer and study, as his old friends came to visit frequently and engaged in vehement political discussions. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 1

tn_anthony-padua1For more than 100 years, Sacred Heart Catholic Church (in downtown Tampa, FL) had been under the pastoral guidance of the Jesuits. When we Franciscans arrived at Sacred Heart in 2005, we were quite surprised to find that one of the clerestory windows (the ones up high in the nave vault) was Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi.  In fact, we Franciscans still have a brief letter, in Francis’ own hand, written to Anthony. Most people know St. Anthony of Padua as the patron saint of lost and stolen articles, but have you ever wondered why he is that particular patron saint? Continue reading

Seeking in the time of loss

About this time each year, the pace of life in the parish slows down: schools are out on summer break, vacations have started, families take a weekend at the beach, or after a week of rain, a sunny Sunday provides a window to get the lawn mowed. I had a few things to do in the office on Sunday to prepare for a week away – my own respite of relaxation. The last thing to do was the weekly pastor’s column. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua

StAnthonyPaduaWhen we Franciscans arrived at Sacred Heart in 2005, we were quite surprised to find that one of the clerestory windows (the ones up high in the nave vault) was Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi. In fact, we Franciscans still have a brief letter, in Francis’ own hand, written to Anthony. Most people know St. Anthony of Padua as the patron saint of lost and stolen articles, but have you ever wondered why he is that particular patron saint? Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 4

anthony-padua2Miracles and Traditions of St. Anthony. St. Anthony Bread is a term used for offerings made in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. Sometimes the alms are given for the education of priests. In some places parents also make a gift for the poor after placing a newborn child under the protection of St. Anthony. It is a practice in some churches to bless small loaves of bread on the feast of St. Anthony and give them to those who want them.

Different legends or stories account for the donation of what is called St. Anthony Bread. By at least one account it goes back to 1263, when it is said a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony, which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer and promise were rewarded with the boy’s return to life. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 3

tn_anthony-padua1Public Preacher, Franciscan Teacher. Anthony’s superior, St. Francis, was cautious about education such as his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians taking pride in their sophisticated knowledge leading to an abandonment of their commitment to a life of real poverty. In Anthony, however, he found a kindred spirit for his vision, who was also able to provide the teaching needed by young members of the order who might seek ordination. Francis wrote in 1224, “It pleases me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, provided that in such studies they do not destroy the spirit of holy prayer and devotedness, as contained in the Rule.” He thereby entrusted the pursuit of studies for any of his friars to the care of Brother Anthony. 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 Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 2

tn_anthony-padua1Before He Was Anthony of Padua.  Anthony of Padua was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões on August 15, 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. His was in a very rich family of the nobility who wanted him to become educated, and they arranged for him to be instructed at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, however, at the age of 15 he entered the community of Canons Regular at the Abbey of St. Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon. Monastery life was hardly peaceful for young Fernando, nor conducive to prayer and study, as his old friends came to visit frequently and engaged in vehement political discussions. Continue reading

St. Anthony of Padua – part 1

tn_anthony-padua1For more than 100 years, Sacred Heart Catholic Church (in downtown Tampa, FL) had been under the pastoral guidance of the Jesuits. When we Franciscans arrived at Sacred Heart in 2005, we were quite surprised to find that one of the clerestory windows (the ones up high in the nave vault) was Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi.  In fact, we Franciscans still have a brief letter, in Francis’ own hand, written to Anthony. Most people know St. Anthony of Padua as the patron saint of lost and stolen articles, but have you ever wondered why he is that particular patron saint?

The Patron Saint of Lost Things. The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. You have to remember this was before the age of the printing press and so all books were of great value, and besides the value of the book, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.

A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL, he also took Anthony’s psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him, and after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil, brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good, but the core of the story would seem to be true. The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the “Responsory of St. Anthony” composed by his contemporary and brother friar, Julian of Spires, proclaims, “The sea obeys and fetters break/And lifeless limbs thou dost restore/While treasures lost are found again/When young or old thine aid implore.”