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September 15, 2001   383 Words

Francis and Anthony: Uncovering the Ties That Bind

CINCINNATI—Many know St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order, as a blissful-looking beggar surrounded by a cluster of captivated birds. One popular and enduring image of St. Anthony, Francis’ most renowned follower, is of a portly man perched in a walnut tree. Although these are endearing representations, they provide nary a clue as to the men behind the images. Nor do they provide evidence of St. Francis’ and St. Anthony’s uniquely parallel lives.

Through her own studies and lifelong interest in St. Francis and St. Anthony, Assistant Managing Editor Carol Ann Morrow delves into the lives of these two great men, uncovering some in-depth similarities in the October issue of St. Anthony Messenger. The story can also be found at:

Both born from well-to-do parents, Anthony and Francis chose piety over privilege. Both witnessed territorial wars, sought to preach the gospel to the Muslims and longed to become martyrs. Francis and Anthony were contemplative men who yearned for the hermit life, but never quite achieved it. More than silence and soulful prayer were demanded from these two.

Francis was a man often taxed by leading his fledging religious Order, yet he made significant progress in spreading its message. When Anthony learned of the Franciscans, he decided to become a friar and foreign missionary. Traveling to Morocco, he fell deathly ill, but was later washed up on the shores of Italy. Both showed remarkable resilience in spreading the gospel, but the parallels do not end there.

Their mutual appreciation for all living things, as well as their familiarity with and passion for God’s word, are characteristics remembered to this day. While Anthony once preached to the fish, Francis preached to the birds. When Anthony realized he was dying, he longed to return to Padua, settling for nearby Arcella when the journey proved too painful. Francis wished to die in Assisi, where he was first touched by grace.

Despite these comparisons, author Carol Ann Morrow is quick to remind readers of their most profound similarity: “Francis and Anthony are alike because they were shaped by the words and actions of Jesus.”


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