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Who is St Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua as we know him, was born on 15th August, 1195 in Portugal, and christened Fernando Martin Bulhom.

He first joined the Augustinian monastery at the age of 17. After witnessing the death of five Franciscan friars who were martyred, Fernando felt a deep desire to leave the comfort of the monastery to bear witness and evangelize like them. He left the Augustinians to join the Franciscan community and took the name Anthony.

Shortly after, Anthony left for Morocco to become a missionary, but he fell ill and had to return home. But he never made it. Instead, he found himself in Sicily, Italy, due to a shipwreck. There, he lived with others from the order. One day, there was an ordination of Dominicans and Franciscans in 1222. At such occasions, it was customary for one of the priests to give a small spiritual talk. As it turned out, no one was ready to give the talk. Anthony was requested and he humbly obliged. This marked the beginning of his recognition as a powerful preacher and teacher.

Anthony was then asked to teach Theology to the friars in the Order. He also continued giving his powerful sermons. While Anthony was in Padua, Italy, people flocked to listen to his preaching. The crowds were so large, sometimes almost 30,000 people gathered to listen to him. Due to his ill health, he died at the age of 36 on 13th June, 1231. He was a Franciscan for only 10 years. The miracles that were performed by him while he was alive and also through his intercession after his death led to his canonization on 30th May, 1232, within less than a year of his death.

(Compiled and edited from various sources)

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