Wednesday, July 5, 2006
St. Anthony Zaccaria

Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): July 5
Double (1955 Calendar): July 5

Today the Church remembers St. Anthony Zaccaria (1502-1539), priest, the founder of the Clerks Regular of St. Paul, later called the Barnabites. He also founded a congregation of nuns but they no longer exist. He preached the Gospel as his model St. Paul did, but the labor greatly weakened him. St. Anthony Zaccaria died as a holy priest at the young age of 36.

Born to a noble family in Lombardy, St. Anthony was early recognized for his virtue. He was devoted to the Mother of God, and he displayed piety for God and great mercy for the poor. St. Anthony would frequently give his rich clothing to those in need. St. Anthony Zaccaria's father died when he was only two years old, his mother was 18 years old at the time.

St. Anthony Zaccaria went to Pavia for philosophy and later Padua for medicine. After he earned a doctorate in medicine at the age of 22, he returned home to realize God was calling Him to save souls. So, St. Anthony gave his wealth to his mother and followed Our Lord's will and became a priest. St. Anthony never ceased to visit the sick or instruct children in Christian doctrine. During his first Mass, the congregation remarks that they witnessed him surrounded by angels in heavenly light. He received everyone with charity and encouraged them with holy words. He was servant to the poor, oppressed, and helpless. Essentially, St. Anthony was a friend to all the friendless; he was a true priest.

St. Anthony Zaccaria realized that he could do better work for the Kingdom of God if he had fellow helpers. So, he spoke with Bartholomew Ferrari and James Morigia, two saintly noblemen. The three of them founded a society of Clerks Regular at Milan. The order was approved by Clement VII and confirmed by Paul III. It soon spread through many lands. St. Anthony Zaccaria was also the founder and father of the Angelic Sisters, which is no longer in existence today. The Angelic Sisters were the first uncloistered nuns.

However, St. Anthony Zaccaria was so humble that he refused to become Superior of his own Order. He displayed remarkable patience to those that opposed him and charity to all. St. Anthony often carried the cross through the streets and public squares, together with his religious. By his prayers, many wicked men came back to Christ, the source of salvation and hope.

What I truly admire about him is his love for Jesus Crucified. At 3:00 PM on Fridays, the hour of Christ's death, St. Anthony would have the bells of the church ring. Jesus's holy name was always on his lips and St. Anthony bore the mortification of Christ in his body. St. Anthony was graced with the gift of ecstasy, tears, knowledge of future things, and the secrets of hearts and power over the enemy of mankind. He had such a fervent love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and greatly promoted the 40 Hours Devotion.

At the young age of 36, St. Anthony was taken to Cremona where he died on July 5, 1539, amid his fellow religious and pious mother. His mother would soon die too, which St. Anthony had foretold would occur. At the final hour of life, he was graced by God of a vision of the apostles and he foretold the growth of his order. He is buried in Saint Paul's Convent of the Angelics at Milan, Italy.

Pope Leo XIII canonized him on Ascension Day in 1897.

One of His Writings:

We are fools for Christ’s sake: our holy guide and most revered patron was speaking about himself and the rest of the apostles, and about the other people who profess the Christian and apostolic way of life. But there is no reason, dear brothers, that we should be surprised or afraid; for the disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. We should love and feel compassion for those who oppose us, rather than abhor and despise them, since they harm themselves and do us good, and adorn us with crowns of everlasting glory while they incite God’s anger against themselves. And even more than this, we should pray for them and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by goodness. We should heap good works like red-hot coals of burning love upon their heads, as our Apostle urges us to do, so that when they become aware of our tolerance and gentleness they may undergo a change of heart and be prompted to turn in love to God.

In his mercy God has chosen us, unworthy as we are, out of the world, to serve him and thus to advance in goodness and to bear the greatest possible fruit of love in patience. We should take encouragement not only from the hope of sharing in the glory of God’s children, but also from the hardships we undergo.

Consider your calling, dearest brothers; if we wish to think carefully about it we shall see readily enough that its basis demands that we who have set out to follow, admittedly from afar, the footsteps of the holy apostles and the other soldiers of Christ, should not be unwilling to share in their sufferings as well. We should keep running steadily in the race we have started, not losing sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. And so since we have chosen such a great Apostle as our guide and father and claim to follow him, we should try to put his teaching and example into practice in our lives. Such a leader should not be served by faint-hearted troops, nor should such a parent find his sons unworthy of him.


Make us, O Lord God, learn in the spirit of Paul the Apostle the knowledge of Jesus Christ which surpasseth all understanding, wherein blessed Anthony Mary was marvelously versed and formed in Thy Church new religious congregations of men and women. Through the same our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

3 comment(s):

del_button July 5, 2006 at 2:04 AM
Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick rundown on a saint of whom I have never even heard!

del_button July 5, 2006 at 7:31 AM
Matthew said...

Don't feel bad. I haven't heard of him before this week either!

del_button July 17, 2006 at 3:10 PM
Fr. Peter said...

Well I am glad you have learned about a new saint. Onething though, while the Angelic Sisters, founded by Saint Anthony did go back into the cloister they do exist today as the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul!
In 1810 the Napoeonic SUppression ended their official common life as religious, though they continued to maintain their reliigous obbligations themselves. In 1880 the congregation was refounded in Cremona!

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