ANTHONY, SAINT, OF PADUA: The most celebrated of the followers of St. Francis of Assisi; b. at Lisbon, of a distinguished, knightly family, about 1195; d. at Padua June 13, 1231. When fifteen years of age he joined the Augustinian canons at Lisbon. Afterward he went to Coimbra and by zealous study made himself master of the theology of his time. The translation of the bones of the first martyred Franciscans from Morocco to Coimbra awakened in Anthony a desire for martyrdom; to accomplish his purpose in 1220 he joined the Minorites and sailed to Africa; being confined to his bed by sickness throughout the winter, he resolved to return home. On the way he was driven to Messina and with the brethren there went to the chapter at Assisi in 1221, where he was taken to a hermitage in the Roaming. By accident his oratorical gifts became known when he was ordained priest at Forli; and he was made preacher of the order. Of his public activity, which now commenced, very little is known. For a time he acted as lector to the Minorites at Bologna, although Francis of Assisi, influenced by Elias of Cortona, who wished to introduce scientific study into the order, gave his permission very reluctantly. Anthony next went to France, and was guardian at Puy and custos in Limousin. As in the Romagna, he showed himself an indefatigable persecutor of heretics in the struggle with the Cathari. At Rimini he converted some of them by his persuasive powers, and he united the converts at Padua into a brotherhood of penitents. Finally he was made provincial, and in 1229 went to Padua.
In 1230 Anthony took part in the general chapter at Assisi, and he was released from his office as provincial in order that he might devote himself entirely to preaching. He, however, took a prominent part in the controversy of the parties which developed among the Minorites. He sided with Elias and was among the delegates sent to Rome to have the differences decided by the pope, who accordingly issued the bull Quo elongati, Sept. 28, 1230 (see FRANCIS, SAINT, OF ASSISI, AND THE FRANCISCAN ORDER).
Anthony's fame rests solely upon his ability as a preacher, which produced a great impression, especially in the district of Treviso. The Latin sketches of his sermons convey little impression of his manner, but they show him to have been a strict preacher of repentance and of contempt of the world, who urged indefatigably the use of the means of grace provided by the Church. It is said that 30,000 auditors listened to him in an open field at Padua. His restless activity wore him out, and, suffering from dropsy, he vainly sought relief by retiring to solitude, taking up his abode in a tree. He was canonized for political reasons by Gregory IX., May 30, 1232. [There is a curious story that on one occasion, disgusted with the indifference of his audience, Anthony betook himself to the seashore and addressed his discourse to the fishes, which came in shoals to listen. Joseph Addison, Remarks on Italy, at the end of "Brescia, Verona and Padua," gives the Italian text and an English translation.]