Saint of the Day – 5 July – St Anthony Mary Zaccaria B. or C.R.S.P. – Priest, Founder, Philospher, Doctor of Medicine/Physician, Renewal of the Forth Hours’ Adoration Devotion, Preacher, Administrator. Founder of the The Clerics Regular of St. Paul (the Barnabites) and the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul. (1502 at Cremona, Lombardy, Italy – 5 July 1539 of natural causes at Cremona, Lombardy, Italy – aged just 37). He was buried at Saint Paul’s Convent of the Angelics at Milan, Italy. His body found incorrupt in 1566 when it was translated to the Church of St. Barnabas in Milan, Italy. He was Beatified on 3 January 1890 and Canonised on 15 May 1897, Rome by Pope Leo XIII. Patronages – The Barnabites, The Angelic Sisters of St Paul, Physicians, The Laity (third order) of St Paul. Attributes – black cassock, lily, Crucifix, Chalice, Host.
St Anthony was born in Cremona (near Milan), Italy. He lost his father at the age of two and was raised by his pious mother. She was devoted to his upbringing, instructing him in the ways of faith from an early age. With her guidance and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Anthony demonstrated great piety as a child. He took a private vow of chastity before his twelfth birthday, and frequently was observed giving away his possessions, food and clothing to the poor and needy.
His gifted mind allowed him to excel at scholastic endeavours and he studied both philosophy and medicine, eventually practicing as a Physician for three years. During that time Anthony felt more and more called not to the healing of men’s bodies but of their souls and eventually pursued theological studies. Drawn to the priesthood, Anthony was ordained in 1528, at the age of 26 and served the community—particularly those in hospitals and in need—for two years.
Saint Anthony moved to Milan, following the Countess Ludovica Torelli of Guastalla, one of his spiritual advisees. Once in Milan, Saint Anthony founded three religious orders: one for men, known as the Clerics Regular of Saint Paul (the Barnabites); a branch of uncloistered nuns, the Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul; and a lay congregation for married people, the Laity of Saint Paul, sometimes referred to as the Oblates of Saint Paul. The three foundations met regularly and engaged together in various forms of apostolic action. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy and religious.
The main devotion and teachings of the orders founded by Saint Anthony were those of Saint Paul, with an emphasis on love for the Eucharist and the suffering of Christ crucified. Dedicated to reformation of the clergy, Saint Anthony earned himself enemies within the church and was twice accused of heresy (both times acquitted). So humble, he refused to serve as superior of his orders, instead traveling, reforming convents and monasteries and extending the membership of the laity.
St Anthony is also known for popularising and renewing, the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, known as the Forty-hour devotion. He also is said to have originated the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays, in recognition of the hour of the crucifixion of Christ.
He caught the plague in 1539, while on a mission to Guastalla, Italy. Despite his sickness, he continued to minister to the ill, as well as engage in the strict penances and mortification he had begun early in life. He died peacefully at age 37, and was buried in the convent of the Angelics of Saint Paul in Milan. His incorrupt body was translated to the Church of Saint Barnabas in Milan. He is survived by the legacy of the orders he founded, as well as several letters written in service of the Lord.
What is the Forty Hours Devotion?
Forty Hours’ Devotion, in Italian called Quarant’ore or Quarantore, is an exercise of devotion in which continuous prayer is made for forty hours before the Blessed Sacrament in solemn exposition and to which Indulgences are attached. A celebration of such a devotion is begun by a Solemn Mass or “Mass of Exposition” and ended by a “Mass of Deposition”. Each of these masses includes a procession and the litany of the saints being chanted.
The precise origin of the Forty Hours’ Devotion is obscure. St. Charles Borromeo speaks as if this practice of praying for forty hours was very ancient; and he refers it to the forty hours that Christ’s Body remained in the tomb. The number 40 is also associated with the rain at the time of the flood of Noah lasting 40 days and nights, the Hebrews wandering in the desert for 40 years on the way to the Promised Land and Jesus fasting for 40 days before beginning his public ministry.
Devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is professed by the faithful publicly by means of popular devotions such as Corpus Christi processions and the Forty Hours, as well as Eucharistic Adoration, Daily, Perpetual and Nocturnal.
Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman (1802-1865), first Archbishop of Westminster, England, observed of the Forty Hours:
“In no other time or place, is the sublimity of our religion so touchingly felt. No ceremony is going forward in the sanctuary, no sound of song is issuing from the choir, no voice of exhortation proceeds from the pulpit, no prayer is uttered aloud at the altar. There are hundreds there and yet they are engaged in no congregational act of worship. Each heart and soul is alone in the midst of a multitude; each uttering its own thoughts, each feeling its own grace. Yet you are overpowered, subdued, quelled, into a reverential mood, softened into a devotional spirit, forced to mediate, to feel, to pray. The little children who come in, led by a mother’s hand, kneel down by her in silence, as she simply points toward the altar, overawed by the still splendour before them: the very babe seems hushed to quiet reverence in her bosom.” — From “The Sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church,” by Andrew A. Lambing (Benziger Brothers, New York, 1892)