St. Anthony of Padua

Beloved in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony is the patron of lost things, but also a hundred other causes.
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He was born in Portugal and entered the Augustinian monastery in Lisbon when he was 15. He became a priest, and it was there that he developed a great understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. Now it happened at that time, that many Christians were being martyred across the Mediterranean in Morocco. Franciscan missionaries were being killed by the Muslims. The bodies of these martyrs were for a time kept at the monastery where lived St. Anthony; one night, a monk saw Anthony kneeling at the caskets of those brave martyrs with his head resting on their caskets. He too yearned to die for Christ.
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He joined the Franciscans, and did travel to Morocco, but God had other plans. He became ill and had to return; on the voyage home his boat was driven off course, and he landed in Italy where he really began his Franciscan life. One day he was at an Ordination Mass, and it turned out, that the priest who was supposed to preach did not arrive. With no warning, Anthony was asked to preach in front of the bishop and many dignitaries. With no preparation, he stepped to the pulpit, and began to speak. His words moved the heart of everyone present. He quoted the Sacred Scriptures as if he knew the entire bible by heart – which he did. This quiet Franciscan was now discovered to have an amazing gift.
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St. Francis himself sent Anthony to preach in city after city. He went through Italy and into France as well. He was such a forceful preacher that shops closed when he came to town, and people stayed up all night, waiting for his sermons. The center of his ministry became the city of Padua, where he was beloved by the people; he died there in 1231.
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One custom on the Feast of St. Anthony is known as “St. Anthony’s Bread” and it goes back to the year 1263. In the city of Padua there lived a family in which the mother left her 20 month old son Thomas alone in the kitchen. The little boy, while playing, ended up head first in a tub of water and drowned. His mother, finding him lifeless screamed in desperation, but then composing herself, she knelt down and prayed to Saint Anthony for help. She made a promise that if he would bring her son back to life, she would donate to the poor an amount of bread equal to the weight of the child. Her prayer was answered, the boy came back to life, and she kept her promise.
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St. Anthony’s Bread involves the giving away of bread to the poor, blessing bread at church and giving it away, or giving alms to the poor. (Tonight at Mass we blessed some St. Anthony’s Bread for every one to take home. We then venerated the relic of St. Anthony.)

Handout for Veneration of the Relic

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