Anthony had sought greater solitude as an Augustinian canon in Coimbra, but that city served as a royal capital and attracted many visitors. He would find much greater solitude at Montepaolo because there were only three other friars in that hermitage. The custom was for two friars to engage in more intense prayer (the Marys) while the other two looked after them (the Marthas), based on the biblical story.
Anthony was quite content there, but a visit to nearby Forlì and the accidental discovery of his preaching talent changed all that. The Friars Minor and the Friars Preacher were there, but there was some confusion: Who was responsible for preaching that day?
Anthony’s guardian delegated him to preach. He responded with a riveting sermon about the obedience of Christ. Who knew that this hermitage chaplain was also an excellent preacher? Anthony had no personal life plan to become one of Italy’s most famous preachers, but he had a rare talent, practical sense, and a deep humility—a combination not easy to find. His years of study and his year in the hermitage at Montepaolo led him more deeply into the divine wisdom that he was eager to share.
Are we moving more deeply into divine wisdom?
In Anthony’s Own Words
“Nothing apart from God can satisfy the human heart, which is truly in search of God.”
Did You Know?
Anthony had a special affection for Mount La Verna as a place for withdrawing from time to time to satisfy his contemplative yearnings. As historians point out, Anthony shared St. Francis’ love for the hidden caves of this mountaintop retreat in northern Italy, where Francis had received the five wounds of Christ. Anthony loved praying in one of the little caves on the mountain.
In memory of Anthony’s visits, the cave has been transformed, in more recent times, into the Oratory of St. Anthony. And it is still a popular stop for La Verna visitors today.
—Jack Wintz, OFM, Saint Anthony of Padua: His Life, Legends, and Devotions
O God, lover of the human family,
help us to overcome our fear
of drawing closer to you, a fear that
a deeper conversion will be required of us.
Lead us to the delights of living
generously in your grace,
no matter where it may lead us
and no matter what changes it may
inspire us to make.
All glory and praise to you forever.