This very popular saint was born in Portugal in 1195. He was baptized "Ferdinand." He received an excellent education from the Augustinian friars and joined the order. When he was twenty-five, his life took an exciting turn. He heard about some Franciscans who had been martyred by the Moors in Morocco. These friars were St. Bernard and companions. We celebrate their feast on January 16. From then on, Ferdinand felt a strong desire to die for Christ. He joined the Franciscans. This order was very new. St. Francis himself was still alive. Ferdinand took the name "Anthony." He went off to Africa to preach to the Moors. But he soon became so sick that he had to return to Italy.
No one in his new religious order realized how brilliant and talented he was. They were not aware of how much education he had received. He never spoke about himself. So the Franciscan superiors assigned him to a quiet friary in Italy. There he washed pots and pans. One day, at a large gathering of priests, Anthony preached a marvellous sermon. From then on, until he died nine years later, St. Anthony preached all over Italy. He was so popular that people even closed their stores to go to hear him.
St. Anthony is frequently called on in times of physical as well as spiritual needs. Many miracles have taken place through the intercession of St. Anthony. Large numbers of people have obtained favours by praying to him. That is why he is called the "wonder-worker." The statue of St. Anthony shows him with Baby Jesus because Baby Jesus appeared to him. Other pictures show St. Anthony holding a bible. This is because he knew, loved and preached the Word of God so well. In fact, St. Anthony was so well educated especially in Sacred Scripture that Pope Pius X11 proclaimed him the "Evangelical Doctor," or Doctor of Sacred Scripture.
St. Anthony died at Arcella, near Padua, Italy, on June 13, 1231. He was thirty-six. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory IX one year later.
Sometimes we want to be recognized for the good things we do or know how to do. It could be that we won't always receive much attention. That is when we can ask St. Anthony to teach us how to be satisfied. We can ask him to help us concentrate on what we can give in this life, not just what we can get.