Saint Anthony’s Miracles: The Heretic’s Mule

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Saint Anthony’s Miracles: The Heretic’s Mule

The city of Toulouse was a centre of the Cather heresy, which denied the goodness of the material world and also the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Anthony engaged in several public debates with them but, although they could not out-argue him, they were not yet ready to give in. One day one of them demanded a miraculous proof, “If you can make my mule bow down before what you call the Body of Christ, I will believe”. Anthony didn’t want to put God to the test, but naturally, there was no way he could avoid this challenge, and so he agreed, leaving the outcome to God. For three days the heretic kept his mule penned up without food. On the third day, a great crowd gathered in the city square. Anthony celebrated Mass in a little chapel and at the end he came out carrying the Blessed Sacrament. Meanwhile, the hungry mule had also been brought along, and a suitable fodder was placed in front of the starved animal. Anthony called out, “Mule! Come here and show reverence to your Creator!” At once the animal came towards Anthony and bowed its head and knees before the Sacrament. Because of this prodigy, the owner of the mule and many heretics were reconciled to the Church.

Meditation

The Miracle of the Mule leads us to contemplate on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As proclaimed in St John’s Gospel “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”. However, we know that the presence of Christ did not end with Jesus’ death. As we know on the third day he rose and continues to live among us, through the Church. Therefore, every time we assistance in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we are completely united with Our Lord Jesus Christ in a deep and intimate way. We hear his voice, his Word in the Holy Scriptures, we pray together with all our brothers and sisters and then in the Eucharist, we become united to the person of Christ.

St. Anthony’s Bread

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St. Anthony’s Bread

The excellent expression of devotion to St. Anthony, known as St. Anthony’s Bread, goes back to the Thirteenth Century. It has been a source of many favors and graces, and has also been of great aid to the poor and the needy.

According to the most ancient chronicles a child of Padua, even while the great basilica was building, fell into a barrel of water, and was drowned. In her grief the mother called on St. Anthony for help, and promised she would donate the child’s weight in grain for the poor if she were restored to life.

While the mother was still praying, the child arose as if from sleep. This miracle gave rise to the pious practice of giving alms to the poor as a petition or in return for favors received through St. Anthony’s intercession.

The practice received its present name from a favor received by a pious girl named Louise Bouffier at Toulon in France in the last century. She promised loaves of bread for the poor in exchange for St. Anthony’s help. Her shop later became a center of devotion to the Saint; the alms of those whose favors were heard were given to the numerous poor families of the city.

The Franciscan Order encourages this act of charity to the afflicted and those in want everywhere. It is a laudable method of sacrifice and of thanksgiving to St. Anthony.

Should you wish to take part in this tradition method of prayer to St. Anthony, you may send your offering and petition marked plainly, to St. Anthony’s Bread.

Any offering, however small, that you care to send today in honor of St. Anthony will be used for the poorest of the poor.

St. Anthony of Padua

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St. Anthony of Padua, Confessor

St. Anthony, who derived his surname from the city of Padua, in Italy, because he spent many years there in preaching the Gospel, was a native of Lisbon, in Portugal. He received, in holy baptism, the name of Ferdinand, and was very piously educated by his parents. No sooner had he become acquainted with the dangers of the world, than he, in the fifteenth year of his age, to be safe from temptation, went into the cloister of the regular Canons, which is not far from Lisbon, where he also made his religious vows. As, however, he was disturbed too much there by the visits of his friends, he went, with the permission of his superiors, to Coimbra, into the monastery of the Holy Cross. To this house came, one day, five friars of the Order of St. Francis, who were travelling to Africa to preach the Gospel to the Moors. They suffered martyrdom, however, soon after their arrival there, and their holy bodies were brought back to the monastery of the Holy Cross, at Coimbra, and solemnly interred in the church attached to it. Antony, hearing how fearlessly these martyrs had preached the true faith and had suffered for Christ’s sake, conceived an intense desire to preach the Gospel to the heathen and to give his life for the word of God. Hence, he determined to enter the Order of St. Francis, that he might have an opportunity to gratify the wishes of his heart. Continue reading