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Antony of Padua

1195-1231. Patron saint of the poor, of Portugal, and of Padua, Italy. Born of noble parents at Lisbon, he joined the Augustinian Canons* in 1210. In 1212 he entered the Augustinian study house at Coimbra, where he took his doctorate, gaining a reputation for preaching skill and biblical and theological learning. Seeking to emulate the first Franciscan martyrs in Morocco, he joined that order, exchanging his baptismal name of Ferdinand for Antony, and left for Africa, but illness forced his return. His ship was carried in a storm to Sicily, from which he traveled to the general chapter at Assisi in 1221. He then retreated for further study and contemplation with the celebrated mystic, Thomas Gallo, translator and commentator on the so-called Dionysius the Areopagite. Summoned from this life of seclusion at the behest of St. Francis,* who at the urging of Elias of Cortona reluctantly commissioned him the first teacher of the order, Antony subsequently taught at Bologna (1222), Montpellier (1224), Toulouse, and Padua, and is credited with introducing Augustinian theology among the Franciscans. He served his order at Puy (1224), Limoges (1226), and in the Romagna. His zeal against the Cathari,* Patarines,* and most probably the Albigensians,* earned him the title Maleus hereticorum (“Hammer of heretics”), while his persuasiveness led him to establish a brotherhood of penitents among his converts at Padua. From 1230 he devoted himself to preaching, with repentance and contempt for the world providing frequent topics. His theology was mystical, and his interpretation of Scripture allegorical rather than literal. His gifts as a preacher were extraordinary including, in addition to a clear voice and compelling manner, prophetic powers and miracles, accounts of which have been embellished since his death. His Lenten series in Padua in 1231 reached the proportions of a revival, with 30,000 reported auditors at one time in an open field. The response was massive reconciliations and resitutions, such that the clergy were insufficient for the needs of the people. Antony was canonized by Gregory IX in the year following his death at thirty-six.

J. de La Haye (ed.), Sancti Francisci Assisiatis...nec non Sancti Antonii Paduani Opera Omnia (1641); Antony's Moral Concordances (ET ed. J.M. Neale, 1856); biographical studies by J. Rigauld (in French, 1899); A. Lepitre (tr. E. Guest) (1913); E. Gilliat-Smith (1926); R.M. Huber (1945); S. Clasen (tr. I. Brady, 1961).