It's Hammer Time

June 12, 2014 | 17 comments

Today is the feast of my patron and namesake, Saint Anthony of Padua. (My middle name is Antonio.) He is arguably one of the most beloved and admired Saints in the Church. Unfortunately, for many, he is merely known as the Saint you pray to when you lose your eyeglasses or car keys. This is unfortunate, especially given his extraordinary life and Christian witness. I thought I would share 13 interesting and perhaps lesser-known facts about this remarkable man of God.

1. Apologies to all my Italian friends. Contrary to popular belief, Anthony was not born in Padua Italy, but Lisbon Portugal to a wealthy and noble family.

2. He was baptized with the name of Fernando (Ferdinand), not Antonio (Anthony).

3. He entered the Canons Regular of St. Augustine at age 15 (over his parents’ objection) and excelled in the study of sacred theology.

4. He was ordained an Augustinian and was later inspired to become a Franciscan monk through the heroic example of five Franciscans who were were martyred for the faith in Morocco. It was upon becoming a Franciscan that he took the name Anthony and set out for Morocco to preach the faith, desirous to become a martyr himself.

5. On his way to Morocco, Anthony became gravely ill. An attempt was made to transport him back to Portugal, however, his ship was stranded on the coast of Sicily. Anthony spent the rest of his life spreading the Gospel throughout Italy and France, never to return to his native Portugal.

6. His remarkable gift of preaching was discovered at an ordination Mass in Forli, Italy. Upon learning that no one had been assigned to preach the homily, and after all of the priests in attendance had declined, Anthony was volunteered to preach the homily and amazed everyone who heard him. It was at that moment when Anthony’s public ministry began. St. Francis, upon learning of Anthony’s erudition and skill, appointed him to teach sacred theology to his Franciscan brethren.

7. Anthony was a tireless defender of the faith. The zeal with which he fought against heresy, coupled with the great number of conversions wrought through his preaching and teaching earned him the title Malleus hereticorum (Hammer of the heretics).

8. Coupled with his extraordinary gifts of preaching and teaching was the gift of miracles. So numerous and prodigious were the miracles wrought by the Saint, that he was regarded a thaumaturgus, a wonder-worker.

9. On one occasion, while attempting to preach to a group of heretics who were ridiculing him, the Saint turned to the edge of a river where he began to preach to an enormous school of the fish that miraculously gathered, peering above the water to listen to his every word. As you can imagine, this miracle later gained him a fair hearing, which resulted in the conversion of many that day.

10. Anthony died in Padua on the 13th of June 1231 at the age of 36 and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX one year later. 

11. In 1263, Saint Anthony's tomb was opened for the transfer of his relics. While his flesh was reduced to dust, his tongue was discovered to be miraculously incorrupt. The great Franciscan Saint Bonaventure, who was the Minister General at the time, beholding this wonder, took the tongue in his hands and kissing it exclaimed: "O Blessed Tongue that always praised the Lord, and made others bless Him, now it is evident what great merit thou hast before God."

12. In 1946, Pope Pius XII named him Doctor Evangelicus (Evangelical Doctor) of the Church.

13. Saint Anthony is often depicted affectionately holding the infant Jesus in his arms, which stems from an apparition that he is said to have received. Very often the infant in Anthony’s arms is portrayed as standing on the holy Bible. It is hard not to see in this a symbol of the Logos, the Word Incarnate, the Word of God, which was the hammer of truth that Anthony wielded with such devotion and power for the salvation of souls.

Saint Anthony of Padua, Hammer of heretics. Ora pro nobis.

Hector Molina is a dynamic lay Catholic speaker and apologist with over 20 years of experience in professional pastoral ministry and leadership in the Church. It was during his early years as a Youth Minister that Hector discerned his call to lay ecclesial ministry. He pursued his theological studies at...

Comments by Members

#1  Usulor Kenneth - Lagos, Lagos

Anthoooo-ooo-oo-o! Padua!! Yes I love him. After our officiating priest, Fr. Obinna Agu, commented on the life of St. Anthony at morning Mass today I decided to launch into Catholic Anwser ( though not for knowing more about the Evangelical Doctor but ) to see what's up on the blog. I was thrilled to see that life of St. Anthony is the topic of the day. That moved me to go and reread his life in the Catholic Encylopaedia. Oh I love him! Anthoooo-ooo-oo-o! Padua.

June 13, 2014 at 10:04 am PST
#2  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

I'm a former Protestant convert to Catholicism. My only critique that I have towards the institution of the Church (not the teachings) is why has it lost that evangelist zeal? You see throughout the Church's history pious Catholics who are willing to surrender everything for Christ. Nowadays many Catholics only go to mass because of habit. I wish the Church would have a revival within herself. I want all Catholics not just the priest to experience Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior. You can appreciate Catholicism more when you have this intimate relation with our Lord like this saint did.

June 13, 2014 at 10:57 am PST
#3  Mari Lu - Los Angeles, California

Josh, agreed. That's what the New Evangelization is all about. In addition to that, we should also evangelize by example the way St. Francis has done. I'm afraid we're lacking a little in that area, too, unless we serve at churches. Which is sad. A Catholic praying and talking about the faith is what drew me back to the church in the first place during my lost years. I thank my guardian angel for that. I knew it's working in protecting me and guiding me to the road of righteousness as I never stopped praying to it even when I was lost.

Catholic Answers, thank you for giving the history of St. Anthony. I never knew much about him except for being the patron saint of lost items. I'm glad to know more about him because he has an inspiring life.

June 14, 2014 at 7:03 am PST
#4  Daniel Jimenez Cardona - Pereira, Risaralda

Sigh! I feel I'm a lost item.

June 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm PST
#5  Logan Rieck - Albany, Illinois

Daniel, don't feel so lost. Every one of us will experience some sort of despair of inadequacy compared to God especially when we recall our past sins to mind. I feel a very helpful measure is to remember that despite our sins, before we were baptized for the remission of our sins, Christ died for us.

The love of God should remind us that despite our inadequacies God has an everlasting love for Man and wishes to draw us all back to Him. Repent, go to Confession, take the Blessed Sacrament, remember the awe-inspiring example of God Who became Incarnate for His deep and profound love for us.

God bless, friend. Always return to God lest the devil appear.

June 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm PST
#6  Brian Wethington - Hurst, Texas

@ Josh and Mari Lu,

I would not say that the zeal for evangelism has been lost. I would say that perhaps it is less visible in some parts of the world. I also suggest that it is possible that you are looking at the whole of history versus a single point in time and suggesting that something is happening less because there appears to be fewer than the whole of history (there is a so much history in the is regard thankfully). Here is the thing, the 33,000 + denominations do not all add up to the success in evangelism in any regard with the stamp of time. I don't think you can truly question the overall zeal of the Catholics in this regard. I will say that you can question the overall masses, but there are certainly individuals who are doing miraculous works for our faith. I, like you, would love to see a break of the Pareto Principle, but it must start somewhere, right? I would not place fault, but rather find methods for starting it.

Finally, I love our faith, but let's not forget that it is unfortunately true that there has always been those who simply go to mass and accept that as meeting their requirements. This is nothing new, and it is a regretful misunderstanding in the Catholic teachings.

June 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm PST
#7  Mari Lu - Los Angeles, California

Brian, I'm looking at it at present time in the U.S. Considering that a our early brethrens are willing to die and have died for our faith, the least we can do is get catechized. I mean, Rome was founded through the blood of Peter and Paul. I just wish that more Catholics are on fire for their faiths. Not that I haven't met them. I've met plenty that led me back to church. I just haven't met enough. I wish there are more of us who love the faith and are willing to stand up for it. As it is, God is calling us to do our part to help. In Africa, it's growing rapidly. Still, we need more passionate Catholics in the US.

Daniel, you're not the only one.We've been there. I'm the prodigal daughter. Keep praying the rosary, keep trusting God, keep doing your best. You'll fall but that's okay. God's with you every step of the way. Just stand back up.

June 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm PST
#8  Josh Monroy - La Palma, California

Brian I can only talk about my own personal experience. I've found that while some Protestant churches hold onto some unorthodox beliefs (treating the Eucharist, bread-wine as "symbols") still they have this evangelist zeal. From time to time, I go to these Protestant churches to enlighten my evangelist zeal. I specially love the worship songs.

June 15, 2014 at 10:27 pm PST
#9  Osama Bin Laden - Auckland, Auckland


June 16, 2014 at 1:22 am PST
#10  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Osama, something bad must have happened to you in your life for you to act in such a foul way to get attention. I pray that sometime in your life you will forgive whoever has done you wrong and that your heart gets emptied of its hate. May the peace and love of Christ be with you always.

June 16, 2014 at 5:15 am PST
#11  Osama Bin Laden - Auckland, Auckland

Chris I would like you to know something life in north Korea is very dangerous pissing of stupid catholics is the only pleasure in my life if I am caught my family will be torture in front of me unless you too have lived in these conditions I suggest you do not lecture me .

June 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm PST
#12  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Osama, what I said to you is hardly a lecture, just an observation and a wish for peace in your life. I was correct, you are lashing out because evil has lashed out at you. I won't pretend to know what life is like in North Korea, but having had someone who was very dear to me murdered while we went on vacation triggered a little rage and hate in me years ago. Evil has no boundries! Lashing out at others only brings a temporary peace, while love, forgiveness and a relationship with Christ can bring everlasting peace. That is the peace I pray you will find at some point in your life. I love and forgive you for the horrible things you have said or will say in the future about Catholics. If there was anything I could do to help your hard life in North Korea I would surely do it. Peace to you, and I pray one day your suffering will end.

June 17, 2014 at 3:57 am PST
#13  Davin Cole - San Mateo, California

First of all I thought a "real" name had to be used to post?

"Osama" if you came here to "**** of" (sic) Catholics, good luck with that. By our very nature as lovers and followers of Christ and the teachings of His church we will always forgive those who trespass against us. But more importantly, why don't you enlighten us to why you feel the need to try to be hateful towards Catholics? Maybe we can help you over come what seems to be a wounded soul....

June 18, 2014 at 12:25 am PST
#14  Usulor Kenneth - Lagos, Lagos

Josh Monroy,

While it is true there is a low level of evangelistic zeal in the Church today ( which in my own opinion started to get worse after Vatican II ), I would not in any way condone your spiritual or religious flirt. Why should you be behaving like dog that goes back to eat its sputum. God seriously reprehended such an act in the Sacred Scriptures calling it fornication (Ezechiel 16, etc). This makes me question the genuiness of your conversion. In most stories of protestants converting to the Catholic Church I have read in and other places I saw a characteristic impenitence. By this I mean that these men and women simulate that there is nothing that warrants them being penitent. That is to say where they are coming from and where they are entering have no substancial differrence for which one can regret having walked in the wrong way prior before their conversion. In fact the word 'conversion' seems to have lost its catholic backbone meaning of penitence. It is now a mere change of religious views. Your occasional going back to your former protestant church(es) tells me a lot about your conversion. I urge you to delve deeper into into our faith so that you can see the superabundant supernatural treasures that is in the Catholic for you and me. This hardly necesitates you going elsewhere. By this I do not mean that protestants are not evangelistically more enthusiastic than Catholics.

June 19, 2014 at 9:27 am PST
#15  Liam Sutherland - pyongyang, P'yongyang Special City

I think the language used on this site is horendus this site is an abomination to the catholic faith and everything it stands for I pray for all your souls for in using this site you are commuting a mortal sin

June 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm PST
#16  Usulor Kenneth - Lagos, Lagos

Liam Sutherland

Please can you explain what you mean by, why and how this site is an abomination to the Catholic faith.

June 19, 2014 at 11:33 pm PST
#17  Berry Logan - ca, California


June 24, 2014 at 10:41 am PST

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