Anthony’s knowledge of the Scriptures and his ability to apply them to daily life led to an assignment from Saint Francis himself: Anthony should go to Bologna and teach Scripture to the young friars.
Francis cautioned that this study should not extinguish the friars’ spirit of prayer and holy devotion. He need not have worried that Anthony might lead the young friars in that direction. Spreading the Good News required zeal, knowledge, and humility. Anthony had all three and would encourage his students to develop the same virtues, yet according to their individual gifts.
Begun in the 11th century, the university in Bologna is Europe’s oldest. The friars’ theology school there was not formally connected with this university in Anthony’s day, but both the Friars Minor and Friars Preacher developed major study centers there. In the 13th century, studying theology meant primarily studying Scripture. Anthony was well qualified to teach young friars how to break open the word of God for the benefit of God’s people.
Is my spiritual life sufficiently rooted in the Scriptures?
In Anthony’s Own Words
“Today Christ stands at the door and knocks in the person of his poor. It is to him that we open when we give aid, when we give ourselves to those in need. For he tells us plainly, ‘Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).”
Did You Know?
In canonizing Anthony in 1232, Pope Gregory IX spoke of him as the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.” That explains why St. Anthony is frequently pictured with a burning light or a book of the Scriptures in his hands.
In 1946, Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Church. It is in Anthony’s love of the word of God and his prayerful efforts to understand and apply it to the situations of everyday life that the Church especially wants us to imitate St. Anthony. The Church wants us to learn from Anthony the teacher the meaning of true wisdom and what it means to become like Jesus, who humbled and emptied himself for our sakes and went about doing good.
—Jack Wintz, OFM, Saint Anthony of Padua: His Life, Legends, and Devotions
Lord Jesus, you were a master teacher
through your words and deeds.
Give us the humility to draw closer to you,
especially through the study of your
self-revelation in the Bible.
Help us quiet our self-assurance long
enough to allow your liberating word
to take deeper root in our hearts.
We ask this also in the name of God the
Father and God the Holy Spirit.