Pope Francis expressed special greetings, at the General Audience over which he presided in St. Peter’s Square on June 12, 2019, on the eve of the feast of Portuguese Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231).
Greeting young and elderly people, and the sick and newlyweds, the Holy Father evoked the liturgical feast of this distinguished preacher and Patron Saint of the poor and the suffering.”
“May his intercession aid you to experience the help of Divine Mercy,” he wished for pilgrims.
Saint Anthony, Doctor of the Church and friend of the poor, miracle worker and popular preacher, was a man in love with the Word of God. The Fioretti of Saint Francis call him “wonderful vase of the Holy Spirit and recount how, preaching in Consistory before the Pope and the Cardinals, he showed such intelligence of the Word of God that “all those that were in the Consistory, although they were of different languages, understood clearly all his words.
Pope Benedict XVI dedicated a catechesis to him on Wednesday, February 10, 2010, saying that he was “one of the most popular Saints of the entire Catholic Church, venerated not only at Padua — where there is a splendid Basilica that houses his mortal remains –, but in the whole world. The images and statues that represent him with a lily, symbol of his purity, or with the Child Jesus in his arms, are a souvenir of a miraculous apparition mentioned in some literary sources, which are dear to the faithful.”
He stressed his importance for the development of the Franciscan charism. “Anthony contributed in a significant way to the development of Franciscan spirituality, with his gifts marked by intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and primarily mystical fervour . . . Anthony was also among the first teachers of Theology of the Friars Minor.”
“At the School of Francis, Anthony always placed Christ at the center of his life and thought, of his action and preaching. It’s another typical trait of Franciscan Theology: Christo-centrism,” pointed out Benedict XVI.