Today is the feast of St Anthony of Padua.
Francis was Portuguese and originally joined the Augustinian friars but had a great desire to be a missionary in Northern Africa and give his life for Christ, and so joined the Franciscans but his plans were dashed when he became ill and he ended up in Sicily. While there he was asked to preach at an ordination. Much to the surprise of all, since he had never before displayed his brilliance, he delivered a most astounding homily full of erudition and sublime doctrine. It was upon this occasion that his public career began. He became know as the “hammer of heretics” because of his effective teaching against the errors of the Cathars.
Like so many churches we have his statue. Anthony is dressed as a Franciscan and holding Jesus as a young child and with a book in his hand and also holding a lily. The image of Anthony holding the child Jesus encourages us to gaze on Christ and present him to the world by our words and actions. The book he holds is open. We need to be familiar with the word of life , the scriptures. It needs to be an open book for us. Lilies blooms in June, the month of St Anthony’s feast. They are a symbol of purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart they shall see God.” May St Anthony continue to encourage us to share Jesus through our single minded love that makes Christ the centre of our life.