Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Christopher Dawson, in his article entitled “Christianity and Sex,” writes of how we find in certain saints “the fullest expression of Christian asceticism-an asceticism which is fundamentally humane and friendly to life.” Surely St. Anthony of Padua is one of these saints.

Born in Lisbon, Fernando (his baptismal name) spent his early years among the Augustinians, but then was inspired to join the Franciscans after five of them were martyred in Morocco in 1220. He spent a brief time in Morocco, hoping to preach among the Muslims and be killed for the faith himself. Compelled to leave North Africa by illness, he set sail for Portugal, but was blown off course and landed in Sicily. He made it to the Italian mainland, where he would exercise his apostolate of preaching and holy living. He became the first Franciscan teacher of theology, who combined eloquence, simplicity and fervent love of God in his lessons. Anthony died in 1231, at the tender age of 36. He was canonized within a year, and when his body was exhumed three centuries later, his tongue was found to be incorrupt. Pius XII proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church.

My mother taught me to pray to St. Anthony for things that go missing. For me as a boy, that mostly meant toys and books. Now I pray to St. Anthony if I go missing, if I should wander from God and hence lose myself.

June 13th, 2013