Franciscan Spirit Blog

Saint Anthony Novena Day Three: The Missionary

Anthony was a missionary in Morocco for less than a year (1220-21). Little is known about those months except that Anthony became so ill that his superiors decided to send him back home. When his ship went aground off the coast of Sicily, Anthony was welcomed by the Friars Minor in Messina and soon joined them on their journey to Assisi for the 1221 Chapter of Mats celebrated at the Portiuncula (chapel of St. Mary of the Angels) around the feast of Pentecost.

At these chapters, friars would share stories about what God was doing in their lives since they had last met. Francis of Assisi was still alive, but we have no record of any words he exchanged with Anthony—if there were any. There will approximately 3,000 friars at this chapter.

After they had heard exhortations from Francis and confessed their failings, the friars would collectively decide on new areas of ministry. In 1217, the friars chose to establish a presence in the Holy Land, for example. Friars at the Chapter of Mats would be reassigned to new ministries or return to the ones in which they were already engaged.

Apparently, there was no thought that Anthony would return to Portugal or to Sicily. The provincial minister in Italy’s Romagna region needed a friar priest to celebrate Mass for the friars at their hermitage in Montepaolo (near Forlì).

Anthony joined the friars with one goal (to be a foreign missionary) but happily engaged in other ministries. Do we show similar flexibility?

Who was Saint Anthony of Padua?

In Anthony’s Own Words

“The avaricious man is really not rich, but poor. He does not control his money, but is controlled by it. He does not possess his wealth, but is possessed by it. He may have many things, yet for him he has all too little.”

Did You Know?

Inspired by the heroic deaths of martyrs, Fernando came to a momentous decision. He went to the little friary the queen had given the Franciscans in Coimbra and said, “Brother, I would gladly put on the habit of your Order if you would promise to send me as soon as possible to the land of the Saracens, that I may gain the crown of the holy martyrs.”

After some challenges from the prior of the Augustinians, he was allowed to leave that priory and receive the Franciscan habit, taking the name Anthony, after the patron of their local church and friary, St. Anthony of the Olives.

—Jack Wintz, OFM, Saint Anthony of Padua: His Life, Legends, and Devotions


God of infinite love and compassion,
you inspired Saint Anthony to be a
missionary, willing to lay down his life
in spreading your Good News.
In Baptism, you have made us missionaries.
Show us how to live your Good News with
zeal and humility, neither one cancelling
out the other. May each of these
virtues lead us to accept any change of
plans that you may have in store for us.

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