St Antony

Today we celebrate the feast day of St Antony of Padua(1195? – 1231)  His shrine is a centre of pilgrimage, and he is also the patron saint of the lost and found.Saint Antony was first of all an Augustinian monk, but he was so impressed by the martyrdom of five Franciscans who had been spreading the faith in Morocco that he became a Franciscan friar himself, so that he could preach the gospel in Africa too. Illness obliged him to leave Morocco, and a storm then drove his ship to Sicily, so that he found himself taking part in the General Chapter of the Franciscans in 1221, where he met Saint Francis of Assisi himself.

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His preaching career then took him to northern Italy and southern France, then a stronghold of the Albigensian heresy. Later he returned to Italy, to Padua, where he was an outstanding preacher and the first Franciscan theologian. His sermons are full of gentleness, but he reproved the wicked with fearless severity – especially backsliding clergy and the oppressors of the weak.At the end of Lent, 1231, Anthony retired to Camposanpiero, in the neighbourhood of Padua, where, after a short time he was taken with a severe illness. Transferred to Vercelli, and strengthened by theapparition of Our Lord, he died at the age of thirty-six years, on 13 June, 1231. He had lived fifteen years with his parents, ten years as a Canon Regular of St. Augustine, and eleven years in the Order of Friars Minor.

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