In almost 11 years as a Friar Minor, Anthony had six very different ministries in three countries. Today we might ask, “Why couldn’t he keep a job?” The answer is very simple: His talents were so broad and well developed that he excelled at each of the ministries to which he was assigned.
A significant part of his success as a Friar Minor is due to the 10 years that he spent as a member of the Canons of St. Augustine. Fernando Bulhom joined them in 1210 at their house in Lisbon. Seeking more distance from friends in that city, he transferred to the Augustinian house in Coimbra two years later. It was there that the remains of five friars martyred in Morocco were brought in 1220.
Already ordained in Coimbra, Fernando received permission to join the Friars Minor and made his novitiate in Coimbra, hoping to be assigned to North Africa and perhaps be martyred there as well. He took his religious name from the local friary’s patron, Anthony of the Desert, an Egyptian hermit who later became an abbot in the third and fourth centuries. Like his saintly patron who went from being a hermit to the head of a monastery, Anthony of Coimbra would serve God and the Church through a variety of ministries.
Are we open to what God may be asking of us today?
In Anthony’s Own Words
“When it is dark, we do not see how dusty and dirty our house is. Only when the place is flooded with sunlight do we realize its awful condition. So we need the light of God’s grace to show us the real state of our soul and induce us to clean up our hearts!”
Did You Know?
Anthony’s superior, Francis of Assisi, was cautious about education such as his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians taking pride in their sophisticated knowledge.
Still, if the friars had to hit the road and preach to all sorts of people, they needed a firm grounding in Scripture and theology. So, when he heard the glowing report of Anthony’s debut at the ordination, Francis wrote in 1224, “It pleases me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, provided that in such studies they do not destroy the spirit of holy prayer and devotedness, as contained in the Rule.”
—Jack Wintz, OFM, Saint Anthony of Padua: His Life, Legends, and Devotions
O God, you are the source of
all our gifts and talents.
We thank you for the many gifts
that you gave Fernando of Lisbon
(who became Anthony of Padua).
Help us to see our own talents
as coming from you and intended to
lead others to you.
Help us always to cooperate
generously with your grace.