Who is the Most Popular Saint in the Whole Catholic Church

by Sister Julie Ann on February 11, 2010

st-anthony-of-padua-777th-anniversary-tribute-2008-by-stephen-b-whatley.jpgPope Benedict XVI did it again. After calling St. Francis “an authentic giant of holiness” at a recent Vatican audience, a few weeks later he characterizes St. Anthony of Padua as “one of the most popular in the whole Catholic Church”. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and all Franciscans are standing tall and joyously following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ with these two cofounders of their Gospel life. (Portrait: Stephen B. Whatley)

Here’s a few notes from the Pope’s reflections:

  • a gifted preacher that intitiated one of the specific features of Franciscan theology-the role of divine love
  • “his outstanding gifts of intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and mainly, mystic fervor” contributed to the development of Franciscan spirituality
  • when learned of the first five Franciscan missionaries who were martyred in Morocco, Anthony decided to join the friars
  • wrote two collections of sermons near the end of his life
  • “reminds us that prayer needs an atmosphere of silence, which is not the same as withdrawal from external noise, but is an interior experience…”

Read more here.

campfran-127.jpgPope Benedict’s closing comments: “Anthony many times invites the faithful to think of true wealth, that of the heart, which, making them good and merciful, makes them accumulate treasures for Heaven. Is not this perhaps, dear friends, a very important teaching also today, when the financial crisis and the serious economic imbalances impoverish not a few persons and create conditions of misery?”

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sister Mary Ann February 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

This weekend of Valentines Day does cause one to reflect on the heart! It is great to read Pope Benedict’s comment regarding St. Anthony inspiring us to see the true wealth of ourselves as “that of the heart.”

St. Anthony is an example of Franciscan spirituality in reflecting upon one’s inner goodness and how to share God’s love with others!

Marie Wilhelm February 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I only know St. Anthony as the saint that helps me find lost articles. He has helped me a number of times. I didn’t know he was a Franciscan saint.

Sister Sharon Paul February 12, 2010 at 5:32 am

YES, when one reads the life of St. Anthony of Padua he is right in line with the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi and they were great friends. Marie, the idea of “lost things” originates from an incident when a novice went away, taking with him a Psalter, prayerbook which Anthony was using and which had many of his own translations. Anthony prayed for its recovery. On the journey the novice had to cross a river. On crossing this river the novice saw an alarming apparition on the opposite side, which told him to take the book back and he did.
Also, Anthony was an Augustinian first and then became a Franciscan. Anthony also had a special gift of preaching and a book I’m reading states that: Many crowds gathered to listen to him and “he could bring sinners to their knees and soften the hearts of hardened criminals.” St. Anthony was sick most of his life and at 36 he realized he didn’t have long to live and he was canonized within a year of his death. Another interesting tidbit of his life was because of Anthony’s devotion to poverty and the poor “St. Anthony’s Bread” was established, a charity was established to help the relief of hunger in the world.
It’s so interesting to read about the different Saints and know that they were REAL, human people and to see their GIFTS they share and yet to see their struggles. HAPPY VALENTINE DAY to all!

Sister Anne Marie Lom February 13, 2010 at 11:47 am

Many of us professed our first vows on June 13, the feast of St. Anthony, so it is a special day for more than one reason for me.

This article entices me to read and study more about St. Anthony.

I also clicked on the picture of Fr. Tom Long in our Motherhouse, St. Francis Chapel, to see a close up of our statue of St. Anthony. There are living white and pink peonies on the altar… a beautiful Valentine “perk” in the midst of these winter days!

Kara Martin February 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm

It’s so great to learn more about St. Anthony! He and I are really close, because he’s saved me numerous times with finding lost things! It was cool to learn the story of why we ask for his intercession for that.

I love that Franciscan saints are getting some papal attention!

Sister Marcolette Madden February 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

St. Anthony’s significance in my life at first centered around his functional role plus some coincidence: My Mom introudced me to his “job” of finding lost articles; I was received into our religious community as a novice on June 13; my sister Theresa’s birtday is June 13. So, right from the start, St. Anthony was more than an abstract figure; he was alive and “busy” helping us on earth.

One of the best lives of the Saints I’ve read is the work of Father Richard Mc Bride. His portrayal presents the saints’ struggle as well as their growth in holiness. I was actually comforted to learn that St. Jerome had a temper! As the years have progressed, I view saints as models for our lives, as our Friends encouraging us to lead truly Christian lives, and as our intercessors. I’m reminded of the words of Pope John XXIII who said: “From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents of their virtues. I am not St. Aloysius, nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character, and the different conditions of my life. I must not be the dry, bloodless reproduction of a model, however perfect.”

“If you search with a lovely thing in mind, then that is what your heart will find.” St. Anthony, help us, as Sister Mary Ann reflects, to acknowledge our inner goodness and honor it in others.

Sister Anne Marie Lom February 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

I enjoyed reading the thoughts and insight of Kara and Sister Marcolette as well as the earlier sharing of Sister Mary Ann, Sister Sharon and Marie. It always amazes me how the insights and sharing of others broadens and deepens my own insights. Thanks to all who took the time to enrich my life with your insights and reflections!

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