Thursday, June 13, 2013

St. Anthony, Hammer of Heretics

St. Anthony of Padua by El Greco
Popular Saint
St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most beloved and popular saints in Catholic history. Known as the "hammer of the heretics," St. Anthony is often portrayed holding the infant Jesus. This is attributed to a miracle in which baby Jesus appeared to St. Anthony who was praying before the Blessed Sacrament in a small chapel.

Hammer of Heretics
St. Anthony was a tremendous speaker and teacher of the faith. So much so, that in 1946 the Church declared him a Doctor of the Church because of his ability to simplify the teachings of faith for ordinary people. He earned the monicker of Hammer of Heretics by putting these talents to great use in refuting heresy. While he was in Rimini, Italy, Anthony found the hearts of its citizens hardened by heresy; they would not listen to his preaching. Instead, he chose to preach at the banks of the sea to the fish. Schools of fish rose to surface to hear his preaching. The people of Rimini were moved to conversion by this miracle.

Patron of Lost Things
Today, he is often invoked as the patron of lost items. This devotion most likely originated as a result of story that holds that when Anthony was a teacher, he had a book of psalms that contained many of his notes. A novice who had determined to leave the order, stole the book and left. St. Anthony prayed for its return. Later the novice returned the book and re-entered the religious community.  Anthony is also patron of a number of other causes, including faith in the Blessed Sacrament.

Confirmation Names
In years past, many would be encouraged to take a saint name when they were confirmed. From what I can tell from reading some of the Catholic forums not many parishes are encouraging this pious action anymore. I was fortunate that in our little parish of St. Cecelia, when I was growing up, it WAS encouraged. I chose the name Anthony, because it was my Grandfather's name. I didn't know anything else about the St Anthony.

Patron Days
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to remind you of a family tradition we started a few years back. We celebrate Baptism Days and we celebrate Patron Saint Days. We don't do anything too extravagant, but, for example, for Stacey's day (St. Martha, July 29th), I took her out to lunch after Mass and then out for some gelato at Paciugo. I recommend you do the same in your family. It's a nice way to bring attention to the liturgy, nurture devotion to the saint and to just have an excuse to celebrate.