St. Anthony of...Portugal?
CINCINNATI—He may be known as St. Anthony of Padua, a
city in Italy, but those from Lisbon are quick to insist that
the celebrated saint, patron of those searching for lost possessions,
was in fact Portuguese. Born around 1195 and baptized Fernando
Bulhom, St. Anthony found education, a religious life and an introduction
to the Franciscans, all in Lisbon, the city along the coast of
His early life and birthplace are featured in the June
issue of St. Anthony Messenger. Assistant Managing
Editor Carol Ann Morrow, from her own travels to Lisbon and Coimbra,
writes of the seaside city’s rich history, as well as its unabashed
delight in and fierce protection of St. Anthony’s origins. The
story can also be found at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
Hailing from the Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood,
a young Fernando, intent on being a preacher and martyr, sought
a more reclusive life in the city of Coimbra in 1212. Yearning
for knowledge and the silence to pursue it, Fernando became well-read
in theology, natural history, anatomy and etymology.
After becoming a Franciscan and adopting the name Anthony,
the young religious left Portugal, never to return in his lifetime.
He became a courageous missionary and fearless traveler, journeying
to such places as Morocco, northern Italy and southern France.
In the spring of 1231, however, Anthony passed away at the age
of 36. He was canonized within a year of his death.
Lisbon’s unwavering devotion to its native son
is evident. Each year on June 12, the eve of St. Anthony’s feast,
costume parades are held along the Avenida da Liberdade
(Liberty Avenue). Multicolored paper lanterns, streamers and banners
are displayed throughout the Alfama and along the parade route.
Bonfires are built and food is prepared in reverence to Lisbon’s
most eminent citizen.
Although he preached and spent his later years in Padua, St.
Anthony’s ties with Lisbon are etched in history. Maria Teresa
Ferreira, a Portuguese guide and interpreter, said it best: “Anthony
is present in marriages, in children asking for a coin. Anthony
is always with us, not only when we pray. He is outside on the
streets as well.”
Permission is granted to reprint this release.