Some Awesome People

Friday, July 5, 2013

St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria

 (1502 –  1539)

Ordinary Time: July 5th

Born of noble parents in Cremona, Italy, in 1502, Antonio Maria Zaccaria took a vow of chastity at a young age. A student of philosophy who studied medicine and even practiced as a doctor for three years, Saint Anthony was nonetheless attracted to the priesthood, and he was ordained in near-record time—after only one year of study. (His earlier training in philosophy had already prepared him well for the priesthood.) In the first years of his priesthood, Saint Anthony put his medical training to good use, working in hospitals and poorhouses, which in the 16th century were all run by the Church.

While serving as spiritual advisor to a countess in Milan, Saint Anthony founded three religious orders, all devoted to the teachings of Saint Paul: the Clerics Regular of St. Paul (also known as the Barnabites), the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul, and the Laity of St. Paul (better known in the United States as the Oblates of St. Paul). All three were dedicated to reform in the Church, and Saint Anthony became known as a doctor of souls as well as of bodies. He also encouraged devotion to the Eucharist (indeed, he helped to popularize the 40 Hours Devotion) and to Christ on the Cross, both themes that appear in this novena.

Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria died on July 5, 1539, at the age of 36. Though his body was found to be incorrupt 27 years after his death, it would take over three-and-a-half centuries before he was beatified (in 1890) and canonized (in 1897) by Pope Leo XIII.


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