Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/623

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ANTHONY


ANTHONY


added from on high the spirit of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles. Witli the zeal of an apostle he undertook to reform the morality of his time by combating in an especial manner the vices of luxury, avarice, and tyramiy. The fruit of his sermons was, therefore, as admirable as his elocjuence itself. No less fervent was lie in the extinction of heresy, notably that of the C'utliares and the Patar- ines, which infested the centre and north of Italy, and probably also that of the Albigenses in the south of France, though we have no authorized documents to that etTect. Among the many miracles St. An- thony wrouglit in the conversion of heretics, the three most noted recorded by his biographers are the following: — The first is that of a horse, which, kept fasting for tlirec days, refused the oats placed before him, till he had knelt down and adored the I Messed Sacrament, which St. Anthony held in his liands. Legendary narratives of the fourteenth century say this miracle took place at Toulouse, at Wadding, at Hruges: the real place, however, was Rimini. The second most important miracle is that of the poisoned food offered him by some Italian heretics, which he rendered innoxious by the sign of the cross. The third miracle worthy of men- tion is that of the famous sermon to the fishes on the bank of the river Brenta in the neighbourhood of Padua; not at Padua, as is generally supposed. The zeal with which St. Anthony fought against heresy, and the great and numerous conversions he made remlered him worthy of the glorious title of Malleus henlicorum (Hammer of the Heretics). Though his preaching was always seasoned with the salt of discretion, nevertheless ho spoke openly to all, to the ricli as to the poor, to the people as well as those in authority. In a .synod at Hourges in the presence of many prelates, he reproved the Archbishop, Simon (le Sully so severely, tnat he induced him to sincere amendment.

.\ftcr having been Guardian at Le-Puy (1224), we find Anthony in the year 1220, Gustos Provincial in the province of Limousin. The most authentic miracles of that period are the following: Preaching one night on Holy Thursday in the Church of St. Pierre du Queriox at Limoges, he remembered he had to sing a Lesson of the Divine Office. Inter- rupting sudilenly his discourse, he api)cared at the same moment among the friars in choir to sing his Lesson, after which he continued his sermon. An- other day preaching in the square des creux f/es Arcnes at Limoges, he miraculously preserved his audience from the rain. At St. Junien iluring the sermon, he predicted that by an artifice of the devil the pulpit would break down, but that all should remain safe and soimd. And so it occurred; for while he was preaching, the i)ulpit was overthrown, but no one hurt; not even the saint himself. In a monastery of Benedictines, where he had fallen ill, he delivered by means of his tunic one of the monks from great temptations. Likewise, by breathing on the face of a novice (whom he had himself re- ceived into the order), he confirmed him in his vocation. At Brivc, where he had founded a con- vent, he preserved from the rain the maid-servant of a benefactress who was bringing some vegetables to the brethren for their meagre repast. This is all that is historically certain of the sojourn of St. Anthony in Limousin.

Regarding the celebrated apparition of the Infant Jesus to our .saint, French writers maintain it took place in the province of Limousin at the Castle of ■hateauneuf-l.a-Foret, between Limoges and ICjmiou-


tiers, whereas the Italian hagiographers fix the place at Camposanpiero, near Padua. The existing docu- ments, however, do not decide the question. We have more certainty regarding the apparition of St. Francis to St. Anthony at the Provincial Chapter of


Aries, whilst the latter was preaching about the mysteries of the Cro.ss. .■\fter the death of St. Francis, 3 October, 1220, .\nthony returned to Italy. His way led him through La Provence on which occasion he wrought the following miracle: Fatigued by the journey, Tie and his companion entered the house of a poor woman, who jjlaced breatl and wine before them. She had forgotten, however, to shut off the tap of the wine-barrel, and to add to this misfortune, the Saint's companion broke his glass. Anthony began to pray, and suddenly the ghuss was made whole, and tiie barrel filled anew with wine. Shortly after liis return to Italy, Anthony was elected Minister Provincial of Kniilia. But in order to de- vote more time to preaching, he resigned this office at the General Chapter of Assisi, 30 May, 1230, and retired to the Convent of Padua, which he had him- self foundcil. The last Lent he preached was that of 1231; the crowd of people which came from all parts to hear him, frequently numbered 30,000 and more. His last sermons were principally ciirected against hatred and enmity, and his efforts were crowned with wonderful success. Pennanent recon- ciliations were effecteil, peace and concord re-estab- lished, liberty given to debtors and other prisoners, restitutions made, and enormous scandals repaired; in fact, the priests of Padua were no longer sufficient for the number of penitents, and many of these de- clared they had been warned by celestial visions, and sent to St. Anthony, to be guided by his counsel. Others after his death said that he appeared to them in their slumbers, admonishing them to go to con- fession.

At Padua also took place the famous miracle of the amputated foot, which Franciscan writers attri- bute to St. Anthony. A young man, Leonarilo by name, in a fit of anger kicked his own mother. Re- pentant, he confe.s,sed his fault to St. Anthony who said to him: "The foot of him who kicks his mother deserves to be cut off." Leonardo ran home and cut off his foot. Learning of this, St. Anthony took the amputated member of the unfortunate youth and miraculously rejoined it. Through the exertions of St. .\nthony, the .Municipality of Padua, 15 March, 1231, passed a law in favour of debtors who could not pay their debts. \ copy of this law is still pre- served in the museum of Padua. From this, as well as the following occurrence, the civil and religious importance of the Saint's influence in the thirteenth century is easily understood. In 1230, while war raged in Lonibardy, St. .\nthony betook himself to Verona to .solicit from the femcious Kzzelino the lilK'rty of the Guelph prisoners. An apocryphal Icgcnil relates that the tyrant humbled himself before the Saint and granted his request. This is not the case, but what does it matter, even if he failed in his attempt; he nevertheless jeopardized his own life for the sake of those oppressed by tyranny, and thereby showed his love and sympatliy for the

ficople. Invited to preach at the funeral of a usurer, le took for his text the words of the Ciospel: " Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart." In the course of the .seniion he .said: "That rich man is dcail and burietl in hell; but go to his treasures and there you will find his heart." The relati\es and friends of the decea-sed, led by curiosity, followed this injunction, and found the heart, still warm, among the coins. Thus the triumph of St. Anthony's missionary career manifests itself not only in his holiness and his numerous miracles, but aL-o in the popularity and subject matter of his sermons, since lie had to fight against the three most obstinate vices of luxury, avarice, ami tjTanny.

.Vt the end of Lent, 1231, Anthony retired to Camposanpiero, in the neighbourhood of Padua, where, after a short time he w.as taken with a severe illness. Transferred to Vercelli, and strengthened