To call St. Anthony of Padua one of the greatest saints is mistaken; it is not enough of an honor for so illustrious, so magnificent, so pure a holy man and second father of the Order of St. Francis; he is a contender for the title of greatest saint. Born in 1195 to a noble family of Lisbon, Portugal, as Fernando, St. Anthony was educated at the cathedral school of the city. At 15, he became an Augustinian canon in a nearby convent, but soon moved to the motherhouse in Coimbra to avoid visits from family and friends. His excellent memory facilitated his studies, and in ten years as a canon, during which he was ordained, he became a hidden but extremely erudite and wise priest.
He became attracted to the Franciscans, who had settled near Coimbra, when he heard accounts of their martyrdoms in Morocco by the Saracens. Attracted to their evangelical simplicity and the possibility of martyrdom, he transferred into the order and took his venerable name. After failing to preach in Morocco and be martyred as he desired, he ended up in Italy, at a small Franciscan convent. On one occasion, when Dominicans came to the town for an ordination, there was no one to preach, and so Anthony was chosen. The astonishing potency of his eloquence, voice, and knowledge blew all those present away, and St. Anthony was swept up into a life of preaching and teaching (at the command of St. Francis himself) to the young Franciscan friars.
He became renowned throughout Italy and southern France, and Pope Gregory IX called him the "Ark of the Covenant"; he was also known as the "Hammer of Heretics." Throughout his short life (he died at 36), he preached with astounding vigor and miraculous glory, performing miracle upon miracle. He reattached a young boy's foot, induced a starving mule to bow to the Eucharistic Lord rather than eat oats, preached to the fishes, and held the Baby Jesus. He is rightly called the wonder-worker of the Franciscans, and he is indeed the favorite Saint of probably the whole world. Within a year of death he was canonized. In this short biography, find the greatest deeds and happenings of the glorious saint's life; there is not a single anecdote or moment of his life that would not move you to a sublime awe at the amazing power God bestowed on his servant. Come to know this holy and gentlest of all the saints, even the Evangelical Doctor of the Church.
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