Saint Anthony of Padua was born near Lisbon, Portugal, August 15, 1195. He was christened with the name Fernando Martins of Bulhoes. His parents were wealthy, lesser nobility. So he was educated at the local Catholic school. When he was 15, he joined the Augustinians. In 1212, he was transferred to an Abbey further away from his home. While there, he studied theology and Latin.
He was ordained a priest around this time. A small group of Franciscan arrived near his abbey. They settled into a hermitage and lived based on the teachings of Saint Anthony of Egypt. He was drawn to their lifestyle. After the first Franciscans were martyred for their faith, he petitioned to join the Franciscan order. When he joined the order he changed his name to Anthony. He started to travel to Morocco but turned back when he became ill. The ship he was on was blown off course and landed in Sicily, Italy.
From Sicily, he traveled to Tuscany and was assigned to a convent. He was sent to a cell in a nearby cave. He spent his time in prayer and study. In 1222, at an ordination, there was a misunderstanding over who would be preaching. The Franciscans expected a Dominican would preach. The Dominicans expected a Franciscan would. The head of the convent asked Anthony. The abbot asked Anthony to speak whatever the Holy Spirit put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled. Everyone was impressed. He was sent to Francis of Assisi. Francis distrusted the study of theology. He was thought it might cause the friars to abandon poverty. Anthony understood Francis’s vision. In 1224, Francis trusted Anthony to teach his friars. Anthony was a great preacher. Once when he tried to preach and people wouldn’t listen, he preached to fish. He wasn’t teaching the fish, but for God’s glory.
According to a story, Anthony had a book of psalms. This book had notes he used for teaching. This was before the invention of the printing press. Books were very valuable. Someone took the book. Anthony prayed it would be found or returned. The book was returned to Anthony.
In 1231, Anthony became ill with ergotism. Ergotism, is also known as Saint Anthony’s fire. It is a poisoning which comes from a fungus in rye grain. He died on June 13, 1231. He was declared a saint by Pope Gregory IX, in 1232. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in January 1946. He is the patron saint for recovering lost things, lost people and the poor.