Who was Anthony of Padua and what is the Novena dedicated to him? In preparation for the Feast of Saint Anthony, on 13 June, learn more about this Saint in 9 facts.
Atypical Novena to Anthony of Padua
Even if it can be celebrated throughout the year, strictly speaking St. Anthony Novena consists in a period of nine days leading to the Feast of Anthony of Padua, on 13 June. During such time we commit ourselves to live a more Christian life and ask Anthony to intercede for our needs.
Did you know that Anthony of Padua wasn’t born in Padua? He preached, died and was buried in this Italian city where in fact is situated his major shrine — the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, containing his mortal remains.
Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua.
Anthony spent ten years as part of the Augustinian Canons, but when he saw the relics of Franciscan missionaries who met with martyrdom in Morocco he decided to join the Franciscan order, willing to follow their example. In 1221 he participated in the well-renowned Chapter of Mats meeting, in Assisi, where he met St. Francis!
Anthony was probably the first theology teacher of the Franciscan Order. Saint Francis himself recognized Anthony’s talents, to whom he wrote a short letter which commenced as follows:
"I would like you to teach the brethren theology"
The next milestone of the life of Saint Anthony has to do with his writings. When he served at the court of Pope Gregory IX, he was commissioned a collection of sermons, known as “Sunday Sermons”. Let’s read a short extract:
Saint Anthony had a very special approach to the act of praying. It was Anthony’s understanding that prayer seals a silent and very intimate relationship with the Lord. He identified 4 steps to accomplish a successful prayer:
- Obsecratio: Open your heart to God.
- Oratio: Speak to God as if He were in front of you.
iii. Postulatio: Communicate your needs to Him.
- Gratiarum actio: Praise and thank Him.
Let’s talk about his patronage. Anthony is Patron Saint of Portugal, his country of origin, and Padua, the city where he spent most of his life. That said, he is additionally massively invoked for the return of lost property and the reason for that stems from an episode happened when Anthony was teaching at a Franciscan monastery.
One day, one of his novices left the hermitage and took Anthony’s book of psalms with him. The Saint prayed for the restitution of his book, so sometime later the monk came back to the monastery and returned the stolen writings.
Conclusion: Anthony’s prayer brought back the lost article AND the lost sheep.
You can usually appreciate several recurring attributes in the representations of Saint Anthony: a book, a lily, and the Divine Child Jesus.
- The book symbolizes his role as a preacher of the Word. It also refers to the episode of the stolen book of psalms, that was brought back by Anthony’s prayers.
- According to Christian iconography, the flower of lily stands for purity and acts as an antidote against evil.
- Child Jesus reminds us of the vision that the Saint received shortly before dying. Perfectly in line with the Franciscan theology, Christ has always been central to the life of Anthony of Padua.
Our Anthony of Padua statue features these three distinctive elements.
Fact #9 - A prayer to conclude the Novena.
Saint Anthony, servant of Mary, glory of the Church, pray for our Holy Father, our bishops, our priests, our Religious Orders, that, through their pious zeal and apostolic labors, all may be united in faith and give greater glory to God.
St. Anthony, helper of all who invoke you, pray for me and intercede for me before the throne of Almighty God that I ve granted the favor I so earnestly see in this novena [state your intention].
Saint Anthony, pray for us!
May the divine assistance remain always with us. Amen
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
O God, may the votive commemoration of blessed Anthony, your confessor, be a source of joy to your Church, that she may always be fortified with spiritual assistance, and deserve to enjoy eternal rewards. Through Christ our Lord.