Saint of the Day – 24 January – Blessed Antonio Migliorati OSA (1355-1450) Priest and Friar of the Order of St Augustine, missionary Preacher, Confessor, Mystc, Sacristan of the Augustinian Church in Tolentino, Italy, the Church that housed the tomb of Saint Nicholas, noted for his zeal for the faith, his devotion to the poor. Also known as Antonio of Amandola. Born on 17 January 1355 in Amandola, Ascoli Piceno, Italy and died on 25 January 1450 in the Saint Augustine Monastery of Amandola, Ascoli Piceno, Italy of natural causes, aged 95. Additional Memorial – 29 January (Augustinians). Patronage – Amandola. His body is incorrupt.
Antonio was born on 17 January, 1355 the son of Simpliciano and Giovanna Migliorati, a farmer, whose family had little wealth but great faith. Antonia was Baptised on the day of birth. The various biographers are in agreement, in describing the first influence of the parents on the child. The names of Jesus and Mary were the first placed on the lips and heart of the child and he cultivated them with tender devotion throughout his life. The learning of the first prayers and the love of prayer, the acceptance of sacrifice and the hardness of life, the devotion to the Passion of Jesus and the sufferings of his Mother, the appreciation of the values of the spirit, were things that the little Antonio began to learn very early.
Antonio soon began to frequent the nearby Church of Sts Vincenzo and Anastasio and to spend time there in prayer. He had discovered contact with God and this was one of the determining factors of his life. He attended school at the Benedictine Monastery in his town, where he became a favoured and much-loved student. In fact, he had been adopted by the entire town, he was everyone’s son, everyone’s assistant, everyone’s favourite child, eveyone’s comfort.
Inspired by the life and work of St Nicola of Tolentino (1254-1305), Antonio, wishing to imitate St Nicholas’ virtues, joined the Augustinians of his native town, where he was Ordained a Priest. He lived about twelve years in the convent of Tolentino, after which he was for some time in Bari.
In 1400 he returned to his hometown of Amandola. His return was meant to be humble and hidden but, as he approached, a festive and spontaneous ringing from the various towers enveloped the city. He had left about fifteen years earlier, the joy and affection with which he was received home was well imaginable. He didn’t get upset. He was already accustomed to supporting the enthusiasm of his admirers with modesty and humility. Antonio once again became everyone’s comfort and defence. He spent many hours in the confessional, which was increasingly in demand, as his fame spread from land to land; real conversions came out, real comfort, real joy. There is no doubt that many also went there, for more practical and more material reasons but many too went with the hope that Antonio would cure their ills. Antonio blessed, prayed and cured but he knew how to take advantage of everything, to lift hearts to a more spiritual level.
Antonio rushed from the confessional to the homes of the needy and from these, with a hurried step, to the Convent, when the bell called the Monks to prayer and other community commitments. Wherever he was, in fact, when he heard the bell, he rushed to the call of that life he had chosen and sincerely loved. This love for the community was a constant feature, even after his death. In fact, it is said that several times the Friars heard his voice in the choir when the body was now buried under the door of the sacristy and that, if the person in charge forgot or delayed to ring the choir bell, it rang by itself, almost touched by the hands of Antonio.
He also worked to rebuild the old Augustinian Monastery and to build a new Church which was originally named for Saint Augustine of Hippo, but after his death was renamed in honour of Blessed Antonio himself, who led it, for many of his remaining 50 years there.
The death of Blessed Antonio has been handed down to us with an abundance of details. There is no mention of disease. He went out like a candle, of mere old age. He was 95 years old and had just begun the year 1450. Three years earlier he had had the great joy of the Canonisation of his dear St Nicholas, which had aroused so much joy in the world. He had received from the Celestial Mother, the revelation that his death was approaching and he communicated this to his confreres to help him with prayer.
A few days passed thus. When he felt that the end was imminent, he called all the Friars to his cell and, with humility and sincerity, asked that, if he had given some bad example or some sorrow, for the love of God and His Most Holy Mother, they would grant him their pardon. Then he confessed and received Communion with supreme devotion as Viaticum for eternity and Extreme Unction.
Finally, with full clarity of mind, always surrounded by his confreres, he turned to Fr Prior, who was Fr Giambattista Stazzi and asked to express his last wish. The Prior agreed, pledging to satisfy him whatever he asked. Then the dying man asked that his body be buried in the bare earth in front of the choir door; the religious, going to pray, would have passed over it and would have always remember him to the mercy of the Lord.
It was 25 January 1450.
The veneration that he had aroused in life, through humility, a spirit of obedience and mortification and a singular apostolic zeal, did not diminish with death. Already during his life, Antonio was considered a saint but the cult exploded immediately after his death and expanded in the lands near Amandola and throughout the Piceno area and then, through his Augustinian brothers, throughout the world. Antonio was invoked in every need. More and more frequent and numerous groups began to flock to his tomb. Among them there were often the miraculous ones who came to give thanks.
And so a very interesting custom began immediately – a book was created that was called the “Book of Miracles,” in which the most notable miracles were gradually recorded by dictation of the miraculous ones and written most often by the public notary. The book goes back to 1756 and records sudden healings of the crippled, paralysed, blind, epileptic, plagued, deliveries from grave misfortunes and even resurrections of the dead. The manuscript book was kept under the urn. It is from this book above all, that the 155 miracles examined for the Beatification of Anthony were deduced.
In 1453 his body, was discovered to be incorrupt when it was removed from the common sepulcher of the friars, was placed in a wooden ark on an Altar which was named after him, while the wonders (even the resurrection of the dead) multiplied. By 1460, his memorial was a civic holiday in Amandola, Italy
In 1641 it was placed in a wooden sarcophagus, worked by Domenico Malpiedi, which in 1897 was replaced by the marble one, which can now be seen in the recently built Chapel. In 1798 the revolutionary soldiers extracted from the sarcophagus and vilified the body of Antonio. A gold crown was placed on his head in 1899. His incorrupt body is still on display in the same church.
Since his death, the people of Amandola have venerated him and celebrated his “dies natalis.” On 11 July 1759 Pope Clement XIII ascribed Antonio in the number of blessed, recognising his cult “ab immemorabili,” and on 20 April 1890 Pope Leo XIII granted a plenary indulgence to visitors to his sanctuary.
PRAYER TO BLESSED ANTONIO
(composed by Archbishop Norberto Perini of Fermo)
We come to You, O Lord,
full of gratitude and filial confidence
because You are rich in graces and ready to forgive.
In the name of Blessed Anthony,
Your faithful servant and our protector,
we ask You to bless our country;
to make families prosper
by preserving prayer, peace, mutual love;
to make young people docile, job-loving, honest;
to give bread to the poor who suffer so much;
to instill serenity and patience in the sick
so that their pain becomes a means of purification for all;
to comfort our elders;
to assist the dying with Your grace
so that, having overcome the last trials,
they come to enjoy You in Your paradise.
O Blessed Anthony,
we all honour you and invoke your intercession
with the Lord, so that He may allow us
to always live your faith
and to imitate your example
made up of few words and many good works.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be