Evangelical Doctor of the Church – Saint Anthony of Padua

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.


Where did our time notation come from? Saint Bede the Venerable

Bede was sent to the monastery of St. Peter when he was seven years old.  He was one of two people who survived a plague, which killed everyone else. He spent nearly all of his life in the monastery becoming a priest at the age of 30. Bede studied his entire life. He is known as one of the smartest men of his time, and was a major influence on English literature. He hand copied many books. He also wrote 45 of his own on science, literature, history, theology and the Bible including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible.

He is the one who began the method of dating events in history from the time of the incarnation, or Christ’s birth, AD. AD means anno Domini in the year of our Lord.  This is the system we still use.

He died in 735 after finishing a Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospel of John.  Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1899. Saint Bede the Venerable is the patron saint of scholars.

Called to holiness – Saint Francis De Sales

Francis de Sales was born August 21, 1567, into a noble family.  He was baptized Francis Bonaventura after two great Franciscan saints.  He had five younger brothers.  His father wanted him to be a lawyer or politician, so he attended the best schools.  He began college in 1583. Because he was a nobleman, he had his own servant and a priest tutor. To please his father her took classes in horseback riding, dancing, and fencing.

One day while he was horseback riding he fell from his horse three times.  Each time he fell from his horse, the sword came out of its scabbard. Each time it fell in the shape of the cross.

In 1584, he attended a theological discussion convincing him of his spiritual failing. He became very depressed through December of 1586. His sorrow made him physically ill and bedridden for a time. In January of 1587, he began to pray. He dedicated his life to God and joined the Minim Order. He completed college and went to Italy. He enrolled in another university studying law theology. He decided to become a priest.

He didn’t tell his father of his decision. While he was gone, his father had found him a job as a senator, and chosen him a bride.  His father had wanted a political-military career for him instead of the priesthood. The Bishop of Geneva helped Francis offering him one of the highest offices in the diocese.  Francis was ordained a priest in 1593.

During the Protestant Reformation, Francis decided he should lead an expedition to bring 60,000 people back to the Church. For three years he walked through the country, but no one would talk to him or even open their door to him. So he wrote little pamphlets to explain the true Catholic faith and slide them under the doors.

People wouldn’t come to him, so he went to the children.  Parents saw how kind he was playing with the children, so they began to talk to them. By the time Francis returned home he had returned 40,000 people to the Catholic Church.

He was friends with Pope Clement VIII and Henry IV of France. He gave Lenten sermons at the palace.

In 1602, the Bishop died. Francis was made Bishop of Geneva. He met Jane de Chantal and when they became friends they began to become saints. After years of working with Jane, he made up his mind to form a new religious community. He was always preaching and even teaching a deaf man, so he could take first Communion. He regularly wrote letters to give spiritual help. He also wrote two important books Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God. He makes it clear that people are called to be saints.

At this time, most people believed only priests, bishops, nuns, and monks could become holy. Francis taught every Christian was called to holiness. His teaching was the groundwork for the Second Vatican Council and the universal call to holiness. He said every career, and every state of life, Christians can become more and more like Christ.  That’s what holiness really means.

While traveling, Francis suffered a stroke and died on December 28, 1622.  In 1661, he was beatified by Pope Alexander VII. Pope Alexander VII made him a saint in 1665.  Pope Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1877.  He is the patron saint of writers and journalists.