FEast: June 13th
Finding lost things, fishing, hospitality, public speakers
Fernando Martins was born in the city of Lisbon, Portugal around the year 1195. His family was wealthy, but he decided to give up that future by entering into an Abbey school to study Latin and theology. He became a priest there, and his main job was to be the hospitality for the Abbey. However, soon after, bodies of Franciscan martyrs were returned home to Portugal. After witnessing the procession, he decided he wanted to join the Franciscan brothers instead and go to preach in Morocco. He joined and took the name Anthony.
Not long into the journey, though, Anthony got very sick and knew he had to turn home - but the boat was blown off course to Sicily and then the brothers traveled to Tuscany where he would stay to recuperate.
In 1222, at a special dinner, Anthony was called on to speak since no one else had prepared anything. Apparently, everyone in the audience was so moved by his speaking talent, despite assuming he was uneducated.
Soon, St. Francis of Assisi himself heard about Anthony, and wrote to him.
A miracle was reported around this time that when a certain group of people did not want to listen to Anthony, he instead went to the water and began to preach to the fish - which all crowded around him to listen.
Anthony soon became a well-known speaker and he took as many as 400 trips to teach and to preach around Italy and France. It was said that he used common, plain words so that anyone could understand despite any lack of education. He also did not focus on telling people who followed heretical teachings that they were wrong, but instead just told them about the wonder he had experienced with his own faith. People also listened to him because unlike most other preachers and religious life at the time, he had given up all his riches and possessions to live more like the people he spoke to everyday.
His patronage as a "finder of lost things" comes from a story about a student he was teaching leaving the order and taking Anthony's book with him. Anthony prayed for the return of the book (which had all his notes and lessons in it). The student did return it, and reentered the order as well.
Another legend about St. Anthony says that a donkey kneeled before him as he carried the Eucharist, rather than choosing to eat it or the wheat he also carried.
After living in a space a bit like a tree house for a spring, Anthony, who was now very ill, asked to return to Padua, the city he loved. He unfortunately passed while on the way there, however, and was only 36 years old. He was canonized only a year after his death and later declared a Doctor of the Church.
wHAT wOULD HE CARE ABOUT TODAY?
Sainthood in the city podcast
Grant that we may always be able to find those things which we lose, and, if not possible, to find the peace and joy that comes from God. grant us simplicity and mindfulness like yours. Grant us the ability to forgive ourselves and others for our losses. Please grant us these things despite any material or worldly losses, that we may have peace of mind.
Humility is a word that stands out to me when thinking of St. Anthony. Humble, and probably a little shy, he refused to speak even when asked, but discovered his talent once he accepted. I portrayed him with a bit of a blushing laugh reminiscent of that encounter, and some reading glasses for his speeches.