Monday, July 5, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria

Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born in 1502 to a noble family in Cremona, Lombardy, Italy. His father died two years later leaving Anthony's eighteen year old mother to raise their son.

The only story we have of Anthony's childhood tells that on his way home from school Anthony gave his cape to a beggar.

Anthony studied medicine and philosophy in Padua, earning his doctorate at the age of 22. He never officially practiced medicine though he did use his knowledge to minister to the poor. He also worked as a Catechist, gathering children together in order to teach them the Catechism and gathering adults for Scripture reading and meditation.

Anthony was ordained to the priesthood in January 1529 and legend holds that angels were seen around the altar during his first Mass. Following his ordination Anthony's catechetical gatherings developed into a structured group to which he delivered his sermons. He continued his outreach to the poor and sick, most especially during the plague of 1528. Anthony also served as spiritual director to several different groups and individuals.
Anthony's most commemorated achievement was his transformation of the feeble Oratory of Eternal Wisdom into "a new and original religious community, consisting of three families: priests, sisters, and lay people." The priestly family was named Sons of St. Paul though they acquired the title of Barnabites once they began to inhabit the Church of St. Barnabas. The family of sisters took the name Angelics of St. Paul and the lay family became known as the Marrieds of St. Paul.

Anthony passed away due to illness at his mother's home in Cremona on the octave of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, July 5, 1539. He was canonized on May 27, 1897 by Pope Leo XIII.

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