Archbishop of Florence
Saint Antoninus, or Little Antony, as he was called from his small stature, was born at Florence in 1389. After a childhood of singular holiness, he begged to be admitted very young into the Dominican house at Fiesole; but the Superior, to test his sincerity and perseverance, told him he must first learn by heart the book of the Decretals, or Canon Law, containing several hundred pages. This apparently impossible task was accomplished within twelve months; and Antoninus received the coveted habit in his sixteenth year.
While still young, he filled several important posts of his Order and was consulted on questions of difficulty by the most learned men of his day, being known because of his wonderful prudence, as the Counselor. He wrote several works on theology and history and served as Papal Theologian at the Council of Florence. In 1446 he was compelled to accept the archbishopric of that city. In this dignity he earned for himself the title of the Father of the Poor, for all he had was at their disposal. Saint Antoninus never refused an alms which was asked in the name of God. When he had no money, he gave his clothes, shoes, or furniture.
One day, being sent by the Florentines to the Pope, as he approached Rome a beggar came up to him almost naked, and asked him for an alms for Christ’s sake. Outdoing Saint Martin, Antoninus gave him his whole cloak. When he entered the city, another one was given him; by whom, he knew not. His household consisted of only six persons; his palace contained no plate or costly furniture, and was often nearly destitute of the necessities of life. His one mule was frequently sold for the relief of the poor, but was ordinarily bought back for him again by some wealthy citizen.
Saint Antoninus died on May 2, 1459, kissing the crucifix, and repeating the words, To serve God is to reign.
Reflection. Alms-deeds include every kind of service rendered to our neighbor in need. He who supports a lame man bestows an alms on him with his feet; he who guides a blind man does him a charity with his eyes; he who carries an invalid or an old man upon his shoulders imparts to him an alms from his strength. Hence none are so poor but they may bestow an alms on the wealthiest man in the world. (St. Augustine)
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
Prayer to Our Lady for the Month of May
O most August and Blessed Virgin Mary! Holy Mother of God! Glorious Queen of Heaven and earth! Powerful Protectress of those who love Thee, and unfailing Advocate of all who invoke Thee! Look down, we beseech Thee, from Thy throne of glory on Thy devoted children; accept the solemn offering we present Thee of this month of May, specially dedicated to Thee, and receive our ardent, humble desires, that by our love and fervor we might worthily honor Thee, who, next to God, art deserving of all honor. Receive us, O Mother of Mercy, among Thy best beloved children; extend to us Thy maternal tenderness and solicitude; obtain for us a place in the Heart of Jesus, and a special share in the gifts of His grace. O deign, we beseech Thee, to recognize our claims on Thy protection, to watch over our spiritual and temporal interests, as well as those of all who are dear to us [During Mothers’ Day Novena add: especially our own mothers and grandmothers, and those souls who are enrolled in the special Mothers’ Day novena prayers and Masses.] O Immaculate Queen of the Universe, do Thou infuse into our souls the spirit of Christ, and teach us Thyself to become meek, humble, obedient, charitable, patient, and submissive to the Will of God.
May our hearts burn with the love of Thy Divine Son, and of Thee, His blessed Mother, not for this month alone, but for time and eternity. May we thirst for the promotion of His honor and Thine, and contribute, as far as we can, to its extension. Receive us, O Mary, the refuge of sinners! Grant us a Mother’s blessing and a Mother’s care, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.