Anthony of Padua was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and baptized Fernando and joined an Augustinian monastery at age 15.
In about 1220, his zeal for God was so intense that he sojourned to Morocco to die for gloriously for Jesus when the bodies of some martyrs arrived from Morroco.
Within months, he sailed for Morocco to join the martyrs in glorious death but became seriously ill with malaria en route and was forced to return to Europe.
A violent storm blew his ship all the way to Sicily where he joined another group pf Martyrs – The Francisan Friars. The Franciscans are a group of related mendicant religious orders within the Catholic Church, founded in 1209 by Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assissi was Anthony’s mentor.
On the trip home, a violent storm arose, and Antony’s ship was blown all the way to Sicily, just in time to join another group of Franciscan sect heading to Assisi to hear Francis speak.
After stepping fully into ministry, Antony hit the road preaching and teaching.
It was incredibly phenomenal that about 800 years ago, Anthony sometimes attracted crowds of up to 30,000.Shops closed and the markets suspended business when he was in town to preach. He was a revivalist of sort.
His messages were pro-poor and anti-wicked-rich. He rebuked the moneylenders for charging exorbitant interest and admonished church leaders who were not defending the poor.
He also recorded great success at converting heretics. In Southern France and Northern Italy which hotbeds for the dualistic Cathari, he was called “The Hammer of the Heretics.” His messages were solidly grounded on the scriptures.
Pope Gregory described him as: “…truly the Ark of the Covenant and the treasury of Holy Scripture… if all the Bibles of the world were lost, Antony could surely rewrite them”.
His ministry flourished also in the miraculous. According to medieval legend, he preached sometimes and “…all who were assembled … although they spoke different languages, clearly and distinctly heard and understood every one of his words as if he had spoken in each of their languages”.
When he settled in Padua in 1230, the city was eventually besieged with the crowds that came to hear him that the citizens ran out of accommodation and food.
When he preached, debtors were freed from prison, relationships were mended, and everyone vowed to live a better life – a great revival indeed.
Apparently over-worked and stressed, his hectic lifestyle eventually affected him. At only 36 years old, he died and canonised within six months of his death.
Generally, Antony lived a simple life of quiet prayer and work at a Franciscan hermitage.
At some points, he cleaned, gardened, set tables, washed dishes.
In 1222 he attended an ordination service, where the scheduled preacher failed to show and he asked to stand in for the absent preacher. He started slow but left everybody wowed by the end of his sermon.