A Significant Date in the Life of St. Anthony
January 16th is a significant date in the life of St. Anthony of Padua.
In 1210, Anthony joined the Canons of St. Augustine in Lisbon, Portugal, to study for the priesthood. He moved to Coimbra, a city about 100 miles north of Lisbon, to continue his studies and he was ordained a priest in 1220.
One year prior in 1219, six Italian Franciscan friars left Italy to go to Morocco, a Muslim country in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea across from Spain. Vitalis became sick while the group was in Spain and did not continue to Morocco. Berard, their leader, and Peter, Adjute, Accurs, and Odo sailed across the Mediterranean and arrived in Morocco and began preaching about Jesus Christ. They were ordered to stop, but they continued peaching. The Sultan ordered them executed and they were beheaded on January 16, 1220. These five friars became the first Franciscan martyrs.
The bodies of the five friars were sent to Portugal. When the bodies were taken through Coimbra, they were viewed by Anthony, who was so moved that he felt called by God to become a foreign missionary himself. We all know, however, that God called Anthony to service other than missionary work. He became a great preacher and healer in Italy and France.
Franciscans throughout the world celebrated the Feast of St. Berard and his companions on January 16th. I ask that you join them in praying for the many missionaries in our Church who are living in foreign lands and preaching the Good News. We especially pray for the seven friars of St. John the Baptist Province who are doing missionary ministry in Jamaica. And thanks to all of you who help them through your prayers and financial support.
Wishing you a wonderful new year in Christ!
Fr. John Bok, OFM
Posted in: Saint Anthony