ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA ( 1195 – 1231 )
St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most prominent amongst the saints of the Catholic Church. He is the patron saint for a lot of purposes: for finding lost things, for begetting children and against barrenness, for students and seekers of truth, for the elderly, for deepening the faith in the Blessed Sacrament, for the protection of Fishermen, for the Franciscan guardianship of the Holy Land, for good harvest, for animals, for mariners and travelers, for the oppressed, the sick and the poor etc.
St. Anthony was born as Fernando Martins de Bulhões, in and Teresa Pais Taveira. His father was the brother of Pedro Martins de Bulhões, the ancestor of the Bulhão or Bulhões family. His was a very rich family of the nobility who wanted him to become educated, and they arranged for him to be instructed at the local cathedral school. Against the wishes of his family, however, he entered the community of Canons Regular at the Abbey of St. Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon. The Canons were famous for their dedication to scholarly pursuits, and sent the youth to their major center of studies, including the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Coimbra. There the young Fernando studied theology and Latin. Joining the Franciscan Order After his ordination to the priesthood, Fernando was named the guest master and placed in charge of hospitality for the abbey. It was in this capacity, in 1219, that he came into contact with five Franciscan friars who were on their way to Morocco to preach the Gospel to the Muslims there. Fernando was strongly attracted to the simple, evangelical lifestyle of the friars, whose order had been founded only eleven years prior. In February of the following year, news arrived that the five Franciscans had been martyred in Morocco, the first to be killed in their new order. Seeing their bodies as they were processed back to Assisi, Fernando meditated on the heroism of these men; inspired by their example, and longing for the same gift of martyrdom, he obtained permission from church authorities to leave the Augustinian Canons to join the new Franciscan Order. Upon his admission to the life of the friars, he joined the small hermitage in Olivais, adopting the name Anthony (from the name of the chapel located there, dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great), by which he was to be known.