Our Patron Saint
Saint Anthony of Padua was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195 A.D., and named Fernando de Bulhoes. He is one of the most beloved Catholic saints today, and he was much loved even in his own time. St. Anthony was known to have a winning smile, a loud voice and a prodigious memory. His fervent faith must have been apparent from a young age, for by fifteen, he had entered the Augustinian Abbey of St. Vincent at Lisbon against his wealthy family’s wishes. In 1220, Don Pedro of Portugal brought the relics of Franciscans who had been martyred to Coimbra. This had a tremendous effect on Anthony, who requested admission to the Franciscans. In 1221, he was accepted and took the name Anthony, after St. Anthony the Great.
A gifted preacher, Anthony was also called upon to teach theology to his fellow Franciscans. He was the first member of the Franciscans to be so honored. Anthony drew large crowds wherever he went in Italy, but his greatest success was in Padua where the entire city flocked to hear his word and welcomed him as another St. Francis. Saint Anthony greatly desired to follow in the footsteps of the five Franciscans who had so affected him, and preach in Morocco, but ill health forced him to return soon after his arrival there. However, his homebound ship was never to reach Spain; a storm forced it to land instead on the coast of Italy. Franciscans there had pity on the ailing Anthony and assigned him to the rural hospice of San Paolo outside of Bologna. In that location, St. Anthony lived as a hermit and worked in the kitchen. St. Anthony also wrote, among other things, his famous sermons on the saints.
After the death of Francis, Anthony became the minister provincial of Emilia or Romagna. In 1226, he was elected as the envoy from the general chapter to Pope Gregory IX. Soon after, he was released from this duty so he could continue his preaching. He returned to Padua, where he preached until his death. Anthony died on June 13, 1231, at the age of thirty-six. Legend has it that children cried and angels rang bells when St. Anthony died. His body was buried in a chapel, which is now enclosed by the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua.
The tradition of the St. Anthony bread goes back to 1263 when a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua Italy as it was still being built. The mother besought St. Anthony and promised that if her child were restored to life, she would give to the poor an amount of wheat equal to the weight of her child. Her son was saved, and her promise was kept. "St. Anthony's Bread," then, is the promise of giving alms in return for a favor asked of God through St. Anthony's intercession.
Relic of Saint Anthony at our church: