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
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: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
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
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.”
Permission is granted to reprint this release.