St. Anthony Messenger

Editorial: Anthony Is a Saint Second to Nobody

St. Anthony of Padua holds the Christ child

We at this organization love Francis of Assisi so much we named our company after him. But it wasn’t always Franciscan Media. Prior to that it was St. Anthony Messenger Press. And before our ministry branched out into books, web features, and other forms of media, we were simply a magazine.

So, really, it was Anthony of Padua who launched our ministry. But in the Franciscan tradition, Anthony will always be the Garfunkel to Francis’ Simon—even third if you consider St. Clare. And this is puzzling, considering he’s our first stop when we lose anything: our wallets, our watches, even our minds as we’re looking. But there are three characteristics of this beloved Portuguese saint that we can try to emulate. 

Anthony, the Austere. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Mt 19:21–22). 

Anthony seemed to be galvanized by this story. Like Francis, he was born into a family of great means, but he gave it up to live an austere life rooted in the Gospel. While giving up all our possessions isn’t always possible, let us pray for Anthony to help us find the balance to give away what we can, keep only what we need, and follow God with a lighter load. 

Anthony, the Superhero. Consider this: Anthony of Padua died in 1231 and was canonized in less than a year—besting even Francis’ fast track to sainthood. At Anthony’s canonization, Pope Gregory IX called him the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.” Centuries later, in 1946, Pope Pius XII declared Anthony a doctor of the Church. All this for a man who only lived to be 36! It’s silly to suggest that any one of us might achieve—in life or in death—what Anthony was able to, but that shouldn’t intimidate us from trying. In smaller ways, we can use his life as a model for how to be a repository of the good news as well as its messenger. 

Anthony, the Preacher. A famous quote attributed to this saint is, “Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.” I love the boots-on-the-ground simplicity of this evangelical instruction. Anthony was a born communicator—a talent even Francis understood from afar. 

In fact, so effective was he at preaching that folklore began to surround his talents. One such legend involved Anthony preaching in the Italian city of Rimini. The townspeople were uninterested in what he had to say, so he directed his words to the fish of a nearby river, who listened intently. Anthony is supposed to have said: “How blessed is the Creator! For the fishes give God more honor and praise than the heretics do!” Though we may not have Anthony’s knack for preaching, we can rely on the saint to help us to find purpose when we are met with indifference and to face aggression with compassion. 

God’s Chosen 

While St. Francis and St. Clare provided the building blocks for their movement, it was the women and men who followed them—Anthony of Padua, Bernard of Quintavalle, Agnes of Assisi, to name but a few—who put their vision into motion. 

It is our job to keep that work going as heirs to the tradition. And though we may never have the skills to enrapture man or beast with our mastery of Scripture, perhaps the best thing we can do is to pray for St. Anthony of Padua to help us find the right words.

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