June 13th - Saint Anthony of Padua
- From: "Waldtraud" <richarra@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2009 10:48:08 -0500
June 13th - Saint Anthony of Padua
By the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira: (died 1995)
Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, called "Ark of the Covenant"
for his profound knowledge of Scriptures and "Hammer of Heretics" for his
skill in applying that knowledge in polemics. It is customary in the
churches of many Western nations to place the statue of St. Anthony in a
special place of honor to be venerated by the faithful on his feast day.
When I visited Assisi in 1950, I admired a picture of the Saint painted by
Giotto, which is said to be the image most closely resembling him that
exists. It presents a strong man with a thick bull-like neck, a serious
expression, an imperious gaze, and a majestic attitude that gives the
impression of the Doctor of the Church he was later declared to be. I bought
some reproductions of this picture by Giotto.
I also bought some other picture that represented St. Anthony that was sold
at the door of the church. This one was not by Giotto, but by some unknown
author who portrayed the common picture of St. Anthony. It showed a young
man with soft skin, pink cheeks, and the mindless and somewhat foolish air
of one who does not understand anything. In his arms he is holding a Child
Jesus, who appears to not understand what he is doing in the arms of that
man. He has the air of someone who says: "I am sorry to be here, it probably
happened by some mistake. But it seems that we will still have to bear this
for a while." In St. Anthony's face, there is nothing that expresses the
Doctor of the Church, the man who was considered the greatest expert in
Scriptures of his time.
He knew everything in Scriptures and used to quote it by heart; he knew even
its most arcane and difficult passages. He was not only able to quote such
texts, but used to comment on them and draw concrete consequences from them
to smash the heretics and to encourage the faithful.
He was also an extraordinary polemicist who would debate the heretics - not
have ecumenical dialogues with them, let me note in passing - and destroy
them by demolishing their arguments. God used to confirm His support for St.
Anthony by working miracles while he was preaching. This twofold show of
arms: a powerful debate followed by miracles was what earned him the title
"Hammer of Heretics." His life had nothing to do with the insipid and
ecumenical St. Anthony presented on the holy cards that so many people have.
The militant St. Anthony is the authentic one, depicting the way he lived on
earth in his times and the way he is now in Heaven. But today his true moral
physiognomy, which the Church presents as a model, has almost completely
disappeared. The figure that replaced him is a sentimental one only
concerned about giving graces and favors. There is a fundamental difference
in the physical figure, but most of all, there is a fundamental difference
in the moral figure of St. Anthony.
In addition to being honored with the aforementioned titles - Ark of the
Covenant and Hammer of the Heretics - St. Anthony is also the Patron of the
Army. The reason for that is linked to two incidents where, from Heaven, he
intervened in a militant way.
The first was when a Spanish fleet was besieging the Muslim city of Oram and
facing a long and fruitless siege. In such circumstance, the Spanish Admiral
went to a statue of St. Anthony to ask his intercession. He told St. Anthony
that he, the Admiral, could do nothing more without some extraordinary help.
Then he turned over his insignias of command to the statue and placed his
Admiral's hat on its head. Then he asked St. Anthony to take command of the
siege against Oram and conquer the city.
Soon after this, the Moors suddenly left the city. Some who were captured
and interrogated related that they had seen a Friar coming from Heaven with
an Admiral's hat on his head. He threatened the Moors that he would send
fire from Heaven upon them unless they left the city. In face of this peril,
the Muslims found it more prudent to leave.
The second incident took place in Rio de Janeiro when it was being attacked
by the French Calvinist fleet. The Calvinists had a great advantage over the
Brazilian Catholics, who could no longer offer an effective resistance. At
that point, the Franciscan Friars took a statue of St. Anthony from their
monastery to a central square in Rio and set it on a column.
The simple presence of the statue began to provoke a general enthusiasm for
the fight. Very soon a large number of young men entered the army. With
this, it was possible to retake lost positions, reorganize the resistance
and make an efficacious counter-attack. In a short time, the Calvinists were
defeated and left the Brazilian shore. The fact that Brazil did not become a
Calvinist country is due in no small part to that marvelous presence of a
statue of St. Anthony.
The common devotion to St. Anthony normally does not mention things like
this. He is presented as a sweet, foolish saint who only likes to arrange
marriages and enjoy his feast day. This kind of sentimental piety distorted
the physiognomy of the great St. Anthony to hide his militancy.
I think that we have the obligation to correct this false piety and help
restore the true moral physiognomy of the saints. For it is easy to see that
this distortion has been effected not only with St. Anthony, but also with
many other saints.
Let us ask St. Anthony to give us the necessary graces to help extirpate
this false piety and to become enthusiastic admirers of Catholic militancy,
as he was.
See Icons at:
One great means of preserving a constant peace and tranquility of heart is
to receive all things as coming from the hands of God, whatever they may be,
and in whatever way they may come.
But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he
will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I
shall have said to you. (John 14:26)
Jesus! my Lord, my God, my All! How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift, So far surpassing hope or thought?
Had I but Mary's sinless heart To love Thee with, my dearest King!
O, with what bursts of fervent praise Thy goodness, Jesus, would I sing!
Sweet Sacrament! We Thee adore! O, make us love Thee more and more!
F. Faber: Corpus Christi. (19th cent.)
- Prev by Date: June 13th - Blessed Alice Kotowska
- Next by Date: The Charge of Hypocrisy, Violence and Oppression
- Previous by thread: June 13th - Blessed Alice Kotowska
- Next by thread: The Charge of Hypocrisy, Violence and Oppression