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The sight of the bodies of the first Franciscan Martyrs brought back from Morocco in 1220 so inflamed Ferdinand Bouillon with a desire for martyrdom that having obtained permission, he joined the newly founded Mendicant Order of St Francis d’Assisi, taking the name, Anthony. He was sent to Morocco at his own request and soon returned, gravely ill. He joined the 3,000 brethren gathered at Whitsuntide and saw St Francis for the first time. In his humility he so concealed his own learning that he was assigned menial tasks at a monastery near Forli, until the few words he was called upon to speak at an ordination ceremony revealed his astounding gift for preaching! St. Anthony could explain Holy Scripture so simply, profoundly and lucidly that St Francis wrote to him thus:“It is my desire that you teach theology to the brethren, provided, however, that the spirit of prayer and devotion be not extinguished.” Teaching and preached throughout southern France and northern Italy, his winning personality, combined with a clear, powerful and pleasing voice, enabled him to impart readily his knowledge to others.Anthony died in 1231 and was canonized a year later. His relic happens to be what was his most priceless asset, viz., his tongue, the organ with which he gave Padua and Lisbon the breath of God’s love. Found glowing with freshness and redness amidst the corruption of the rest of his remains, the tongue is enshrined in the basilica built for him in 1263.Reflection: “O blessed tongue, which has always praised God and set on fire the hearts of men with His holy love! It is evident that you have gained untold merits in the Lord’s sight!” (St Bonaventure).

St Anthony of Padua Continued
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