13 June: St. Anthony of Padua

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui populo tuo beatum Antonium
praedicatorem insignem dedisti,
eumque in necessitatibus intercessorem,
concede, ut, eius auxilio, christianae vitae documenta sectantes,
in omnibus adversitatibus te subvenientem sentiamus.

This prayer was of new composition for the 1970MR.  Whoever worked on it, however, knew his stuff.  It is "classical" in many respects.

Subvenio and adversitates give us a military flavor to this prayer.  Subvenio means, "to come up or advance to one’s assistance (the figure taken from the advance of a military reserve; v. subsidium), to come to one’s assistance, to aid, assist, relieve, succor; to obviate, remedy, heal, cure a disease, an evil, etc." 

We also need to turn to our knowledge of ancient rhetoric for a glimpse into documentum.  This is a “pattern for imitation”, like exemplum, but also in some contexts having the meaning of “a proof”, a concrete demonstration that what is asserted is true: evidence.   In this case it is a paradigm after which we are to pattern and shape our own lives.  But this pattern or model itself actually has power to shape us.  Christ transforms us the baptized who are made in his image and likeness, after his perfect exemplum, and who imitate His exempla and documenta, His words and deeds. 

Almighty eternal God,
who gave blessed Anthony to Your people
as an outstanding preacher,
and in times of need as an intercessor,
grant, that, by his help, following his examples of Christian life
we may sense You coming to aid us in every adversity.

I recall seeing statues of the famous Franciscan when I was in Lisbon, many years ago.  St. Anthony, a native of Portugal, is there depicted in his pre-Franciscan mode, indeed, as an Augustinian canon with long hair, not the corona we are used to seeing.

You know the old Italian phrase, "Chi fa per se, fa per tre".  You also know the old rhyme of those in need:

Tony, Tony, look around.
Something’s lost and must be found.  

It might be consolation to many of you that St. Anthony was able to help himself when something important was lost.  Some years ago an important relic of St. Anthony (jaw, perhaps?) was stolen from a shrine here in Italy.  It was recovered after not very long.  I am not sure how much confidence that should inspire, but if it had not been recovered…

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Don Marco says:

    We had the traditional blessing of lilies and bread in honour of Saint Anthony at the end of Holy Mass. For those who are interested, here are the texts:


    O God, the Creator of all things,
    the Source of all loveliness,
    the lover of holy purity,
    and the giver of spiritual grace.
    Graciously bless these lilies
    offered today in thanksgiving to you
    and in honour of Saint Anthony.
    Pour out on them heavenly dew
    by the saving sign + of the most holy Cross.
    Loving God,
    you have endowed these lilies with a most delightful fragrance
    to be a comfort and help to those on their sickbeds.
    Wherefore, imbue them with so great a virtue
    that whether they are used at home,
    in a sickroom, or carried about one’s person,
    they may have power,
    through the intercession of Saint Anthony,
    to drive out evil spirits, to safeguard chastity,
    to turn away illness,
    and to bestow on your servants peace and grace.
    Through Christ our Lord.

    The lilies are sprinkled with holy water.

    Most Holy Father, Giver of our daily bread,
    hear our prayers
    that those who share this bread in honour of Saint Anthony,
    the brilliant preacher of your Word and lover of the poor,
    may taste the inward effect of your heavenly blessing,
    and hunger always after the true Bread come down from heaven.
    Bless, we beseech you, these loaves +
    and mercifully grant that those who celebrate
    the festival of Saint Anthony today
    may, by eating this bread with reverence,
    attain the corporal and spiritual health they desire.
    Through Christ our Lord.

    The loaves are sprinkled with holy water.

  2. The ICEL 1973 translation of the collect for St. Anthony:

    Almighty God,
    you have given Saint Anthony to your people
    as an outstanding preacher
    and a ready helper in time of need.
    With his assistance may we follow the Gospel of Christ
    and know the help of your grace in every difficulty.

    Not so bad!

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