The Wonder Worker

My interest in St. Anthony arose in my school days when I was in IV or V standard. Our class teacher always invoked his name for lost things even for small items like attendance book, Register or even a lost report card.  I later understood that he was one of the most famous saints that Catholic church ever witnessed and venerated. He was a priest, a miracle worker and a defender of faith.

Volumes of information are available on St. Anthony in various domains but for now let us go deeper in finding things about St. Anthony that we may have heard of, read, listened but never pondered on. Pope Benedict XVI explicitly mentioned that he was one of the most popular saints of the entire catholic church venerated not only in Padua but around the world.


  1. His Original name was not “Anthony” and he was not Italian.He was Portuguese born in the year 1195. He was born with the name Ferdinand the son of Martin and Mary. His full name was Ferdando  Marthins de Bulhoes.
  1. He entered the consecrated life when he was young. As a young boy St. Anthony always wanted a life totally dedicated to God and God heard his prayers. He became a member of the Augustinian Canons at the age of 15 the very same order in which he became a priest.
  1. Name Padua was attached to his name although he wasn’t from Padua. Padua is a city in the Northen Italy. He preached there and also died in that city.
  1. He was ordained at the tender age of 19 just 4 years after he entered the convent.
  2. Why did he change his name? He was deeply inspired with zeal of the 5 Franciscans martyrs that inspired him to join the Franciscan order. When vocations enter the Franciscan Order they usually change the name. This is why the Ferdinand’s name was changed to Anthony
  1. But why Anthony Upon Ferdinand’s admission to the life of the friars, he joined the small hermitage in Olivia’s adopting the name of Anthony based on the chapel located there, dedicated to Anthony the Great by which name he was to be known. (Just for information St. Anthony the Great was the first hermits in the Catholic Church and is also known as Anthony of Egypt and Anthony of the Desert.)  St Anthony of Padua wanted to imitate St. Anthony the Great who became the friar’s model and protector.
  1. St Anthony was assigned to preach Muslims in Morocco. This was his dream to die as martyr yet Gods providence directed him in another way. He fell seriously sick in Morocco, set sail back for Portugal but on return voyage his ship was blown off course and landed in Sicily. From there he made his way to Tuscany where he was assigned to a convent of the order but faced difficulty on account of health. He was finally assigned to the rural hermitage where he lived the hidden life he dearly loved.
  1. How he became famous was an accident. St Anthony was subsequently moved to the Hermitage of San Paulo where he was content washing pans and pots in the kitchen. One day there was a scheduled Ordination service where no one among the Dominicans and Franciscans was prepared to preach the customary address.  The Bishops saw St Anthony in a corner and ordered him to preach. The listeners hearts burned during the first public preaching.
  2. He had an extra ordinary gift of preaching. On one occasion after St. Anthony preached before the Pope and Cardinals during consistory all those that were present although they were of different languages understood clearly all his words.
  3. A famous quote “Action speaks louder than words” but almost no one knew St. Anthony was the Author. The common phrase “action speaks louder than words” is traced back to a sermon in 1200. It was first said by St. Anthony of Padua. This insightful statement was later used with different phrasing by personalities such as Benjamin Franklin, Dale Carnegie, and Mark Twain.

Returning back to our recent times at once upon a time in the quite scenic village of Tolleaband Aquem (now a bustling down town) adjacent to the main road still stands a small chapel which was originally dedicated to St. Sebastian but now re consecrated to St Anthony. This year feast, in his honor commences celebration from 1st June 2024 with Liturgical services beginning at 5:30 pm with Rosary and litany and followed by Mass at 6.00pm.

Let us all join in this celebration to pray for St Anthony’s powerful intercession for health, peace and all our unfulfilled needs and intentions.

With my spiritual salutations to all.

(Adapted from Various Domains on cyberspace, Book of Saints and other liturgical websites)

By: Agnelo Fernandes