Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, one of the most popular and venerated saints in the Roman Catholic Church. Just in case you think you are familiar with this great saint, here are some facts about this saint that you may not know:
1) St. Anthony was not Italian. He was Portuguese, born in Lisbon (1195), and was given the baptismal name of Ferdinand.
2) He was given the title "Malleus Hereticorum", the "Hammer of Heretics", because of his ability to preach the gospel with zeal and defend the faith against all of the contemporary heretics. One day, after preaching to a group of heretics in Remini, Italy, and realizing his words were not landing, he led them to the shore. Turning to the river he shouted, "From the moment in which you proved yourselves to be unworthy of the Word of the Lord, look, I turn to the fish, to further confound your disbelief". Legend has it that hoards of fish came to the edge of the water, lifted their heads out of the water and to listened to him attentively, stunning and embarrassing the heretics.
3) While preaching in France one year on Holy Thursday, the saint remembered he had to sing a lesson at the Divine Office back at his monastery. To handle this dilema he bi-located (appearing two places at once - a gift some saints have while living). He sang with the friars at the monastery in Italy and continued to preached his sermon in France simultaneously.
4) More than six hundred years before the Immaculate Conception became Catholic dogma by Pius IX, St. Anthony recognized it by saying, "The Glorious Virgin did not have a stain in her birth because she was sanctified in her mother's womb and safeguarded there by angels."
5) He was the second fastest canonization in history, declared a saint only 352 days (under one year) after his death by Pope Gregory IX. (The fastest canonization in Church history was St. Peter of Verona; 337 days after being martyred.)
6) In 1263, when his body was exhumed, his tongue was found to be perfectly in tact and not decomposed - also known as incorrupt. Upon seeing this, St. Bonaventure prayed aloud: "O blessed tongue, you have always praised the Lord and led others to praise him! Now we can clearly see how great indeed have been your merits before God!"
St. Anthony, Hammer of Heretics, Pray For Us.
"He, Who is the beginning and the end, the ruler of the angels, made Himself obedient to human creatures. The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant." - St. Anthony of Padua