St. Anthony, born as Fernando Martins in the year 1195 AD in Lisbon, Portugal joined the Franciscan order at a young age where he initially he worked as a chaplain doing the lowliest of kitchen work. But the hidden jewel was soon to appear in all its brilliance. For the occasion of an ordination, the priest who was supposed to preach the sermon fell ill and so St. Anthony was asked to give the sermon. He spoke with such wisdom and eloquence that his fame spread throughout and he was asked to preach throughout Italy. St Anthony performed countless miracles in his lifetime.
When he preached, no church could accommodate the crowd that came to listen to him. His teachings on the catholic faith were so simple and resounding, that the most unlettered and innocent could understand his message. It is for this reason he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
He was only 36-years-old when he died and was canonized less than a year later by Pope Gregory IX. When they exhumed his body, it was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, showing us the powerful and amazing preacher that he was.
As a child, growing up in a prayerful home, I had a strong devotion towards St. Anthony, instilled in me by my parents. I always knew him to be the saint of lost objects but had never really prayed to him for anything specific until this incident that took place in October 2013.
A friend of mine lost her journal and the submission date was the very next day. On the very same day in the evening, I happened to be in Miramar and I left my key on the bike itself; when I returned I was devastated to see that the key wasn’t there and I didn’t even have a spare key. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find it. At this point I didn’t know what to do, but remembering St. Anthony as the saint of lost objects, I resorted to asking for his intercession. I made a small prayer at the Miramar circle where a statue of St. Anthony is present, and walked back to my bike. To my utter surprise the key was on the bike. I was overjoyed and at that moment remembered my friend who had lost her journal and I narrated the entire incident to her. I told her how to have faith and how to pray. Although she wasn’t a Christian, the very next day she downloaded a picture of St Anthony and prayed in complete faith and the very same day she happened to go to the library and found her journal- another miracle! After the incident she continues to pray to St. Anthony every Tuesday.
This incident was a turning point in my prayer life, as I now truly understood the power of intersession that a saint possesses in the holy presence of God.
I began to look into the life of this saint and I realised that there was more to him than just being a saint of lost objects. He was an amazing preacher, a teacher and someone who was ablaze with the love of God at such a young age. He had the gift of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles.
Some of the miracles that really inspired me were the following:
- The first was that of a horse, which after being kept fasting for three days, refused the oats placed before him, till he had knelt down and adored the Blessed Sacrament, which St. Anthony held in his hands.
- The second is that of the poisoned food offered to him by some Italian heretics, which he rendered harmless by just making the sign of the cross.
- And the third miracle was that of the famous sermon he gave to the fishes on the bank of the river Brenta in the neighbourhood of Padua; since the people refused to listen to him.
In my daily life, whenever I have to speak in front of a crowd at a meeting, I always pray through the intercession of St. Anthony as he such a great orator and a preacher extraordinaire, and soon after my prayer, I am blessed with ideas, examples and understanding.
Through his life and teachings, St. Anthony shows us how we need to be rooted in the love of God, totally depending on him alone. One of his famous quotes being
“Christians must lean on the cross of Christ, just as travellers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey”.
He also teaches us the virtues of humility and submission, and above all, he shows us our true call to a life of sacrifice and sanctity.