My Dear Friends,
Apart from being the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, this is also a great Feast Day in Italy and Portugal, especially in Lisbon. Today is the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua. Most know St. Anthony as the saint that one turns to when you have lost something but know little else. St. Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195 to a wealthy family. He convinced his parents to permit him to join the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, Portugal. He was ordained to the priesthood and made guest master of the Abbey. Not long after, the Franciscan Friars established a hermitage just outside Coimbra. Feeling the call of the Holy Spirit, he requested and was given permission to leave the Abbey and join the Franciscans, he took the name Anthony.
During a trip to Morocco to proclaim the gospel, Anthony fell ill and was sent back to Portugal. Unexpectedly, their ship was blown off course and he arrived in Sicily instead. Considering his ill health, the Friars sent him to the hermitage of San Paulo. He recovered and studied. During a visit from the Dominicans to the hermitage there was confusion about who was to give the homily at Mass. Each order thought the other was providing the homilist. Anthony was asked and he gave a moving homily that impressed those gathered, so much so that word came to Francis of Assisi of his eloquence, and he placed Anthony in charge of the education of the friars. Anthony became well known for his preaching, teaching and the ability to bring lost souls back to the faith. He died in 1231 at the age of 35 and was canonized one year later by Pope Gregory IX. They exhumed his body 336 years later and found his whole body corrupted except for his tongue which was incorrupt credited for his eloquence by which he proclaimed the gospel.
St. Anthony Sowed the seed of faith in the world wherever he went and over time it continued to grow and flourish. We too are called to sow the seed of the faith, but we must be patient to allow that seed to grow, the full stalk does not grow overnight. Let us implore the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua as we strive to follow his example, preparing a rich harvest for the Lord! Happy Sunday!