In our friaries throughout Ireland the Novena to St Anthony has begun, days of preaching, prayer and celebration leading up to the saint's feast day on 13 June.


A favourite in much of the Catholic world, St Anthony of Padua has more cities and places named after him than any other saint, 68. This includes forty-four in Latin America, fifteen in the United States, four in Canada, four in the Philippines, and one in Spain. Four capes, three bays, two reefs, and two peaks also take his name.


Far more numerous are the statues of St Anthony in churches. The saint of Padua is usually sculpted or portrayed holding in his arms the child Jesus, a lily, a book, or all three. A bank of candles usually burns in front of the statue. 


Immense Popularity

We might be tempted to ask, as a friar once asked St. Francis of Assisi, “Why after you? Why after you?” The answer seems to be both the immense popularity of St. Anthony in his lifetime and the flood of wonders that followed his death.


And he still answers the prayers of countless people who seek his intercession with Christ each day.


The list of human concerns for which Anthony is the patron is amazingly varied. Over the years St Anthony has been known as the patron of lovers and of marriage, as a helper in time of birth or as a help against infertility. He was called upon against fevers, against diabolic powers, and against plagues among cattle. He was honoured as the patron of mariners as well as of those who live in mountainous areas.


Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and set in a new and unexpected direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one’s life completely over to Christ.


God did with Anthony as God pleased—and what God pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects found himself by losing himself totally to the providence of God.


Quotes from the Sermons of Saint Anthony


Love wholly and not partially.

Christ says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart.’ Yes, he says, with your whole heart. He doesn’t say: Leave a corner of your heart for yourself. Christ bought the whole of you by giving his whole self for you. Do not try to hold back any part of yourself. If you really wish to have the whole, then give it all to him, and he will give you all of himself. Love Wholly and not partially. Nothing apart from God can satisfy the human heart, for the heart is truly in search of God.


Stay united with our healer.

No one is closer to us than he who healed our wounds. For the Head of the Body is one with his members. Let us therefore love him as our Lord and God. When it is dark, we do not see how dusty and dirty our house is. Only when the place is flooded with sunlight do we realize its awful condition. So we need the light of God’s grace to show us the real state of our soul and induce us to clean up our hearts! We beg you, Lord Jesus, bind us with the love of you and our neighbour so that we can love you deeply with our whole heart, and not be separated from you.

Serve Christ in the poor. 

Today Christ stands at the door and knocks in the person of his poor. It is to him that we open the door when we give aid, when we give ourselves to those in need. For he tells us plainly, ‘When you did this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me,’ Remember, the greedy person is really not rich, but poor. He does not control his money but is controlled by it. He does not possess his wealth but is possessed by it. He may have many things, yet he always thinks he has all too little.


Let God’s Light shine through you. 

When a crystal is touched or struck by the rays of the sun, it gives forth brilliant sparks of light. When the man of faith is touched by the light of God’s grace, he too must shine with his good words and deeds, and so bring God’s light to others.