Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in Catalonia, Spain, in 1807, the son of a weaver. He took up weaving but then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented his entering the Order, and he served as a secular priest. In 1849, he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the Claretians, and the Apostolic Training Institute of the Immaculate Conception, Claretian nuns. From 1850 to 1857, Anthony served as the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He returned to the court of Queen Isabella II as confessor, and went into exile with her in 1868. In 1869 and 1870, Anthony participated in the First Vatican Council. He died in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southernFrance on October 24, 1870. Anthony Mary Claret had the gift of prophecy and performed many miracles. He was opposed by the liberal forces of Spain and Cuba and endured many trials.
Anthony Claret was a truly remarkable, dynamic and holy man who founded the Congregation that today bears his name – the Claretian Missionaries, the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Although he died over a century ago, yet the impact of his life and his burning concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of all people – especially the poor – make him much more than just an honoured memory.
Intense love for God and people was the force that drove St Anthony Mary Claret through out his life. ‘Fire’ was the word he used to describe the love that launched him on an endless sea of projects, and that gave him the sustaining power to keep them all going. He draws a pen-picture of his ideal: ‘A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who … strives by all means possible to set the whole world on fire with God’s love.’