St Anthony of Padua.
1195-1231. ~ Named Ferdinand de Bulhoes at birth, he was born in Lisbon, Portugal, son of an imperial knight. Ferdinand received his education from the priests of Lisbon cathedral school and became a member of the Canons Regular of St Augustine at the age of fifteen. He later moved to another house in Coimbra Priory and was ordained in 1219, aged twenty-four. From there, he transferred to the Franciscan order taking the name Anthony. During his student years, Anthony acquired extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, Bible and all spiritual issues. In his heart, he wanted so much to do missionary work that he was allowed to go to Morocco to try to convert the Moors, but unfortunately, he fell ill and had to return to the monastery. He was assigned to kitchen duties while he recuperated, but one evening during a religious celebration, he was asked to address the congregation. All that heard him were enthralled and his superiors were so impressed with his vast knowledge and preaching techniques that they insisted that the authorities should introduce the teaching of Scripture and Bible study into their monasteries. St Francis of Assisi appointed Anthony as the first lecturer in theology to teach in the religious community.
The practice of praying to St Anthony when items are lost, originated from an occasion when a young monk stole a manuscript that belonged to Anthony. Anthony prayed it would return and immediately the monk experienced a vision and brought it back. After five years preaching and teaching, Anthony was worn out and exhausted. He died in Padua of the plague at only thirty-six years of age. He achieved so much in his short life, working endlessly preaching, converting, and striving to abolish the debtors’ prison and also to improve the living conditions of the poor. At various stages of his life, he was called “Hammer of the Heretics”, “Living Ark of the Covenant” and “Wonder Worker”. He is the patron saint of Portugal, of lost items and also of alms giving. Anthony was canonised in 1232, a year after his death. He was made a Doctor of the Church in 1946.