Friday, July 05, 2013
Today, July 5, the Church remembers Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria. A renowned preacher and promoter of Eucharistic adoration, he founded the order of priests now known as the Barnabites.
Saint Anthony Maria Zaccaria was born at Cremona, Italy, in 1502, of noble parents. His father Lazzaro died when Anthony was two, and Antonietta, his eighteen-year-old mother, never remarried, but devoted herself to performing charitable works for the poor. She passed on her love for the poor to her son. As a child, Anthony gave his coat to a poor beggar who was shivering with cold.
Anthony studied philosophy and medicine at the Universities of Pavia and Padua. He became a licensed physician at the age of 22 and returned to Cremona. He cared for his patient's physical needs, but was even more concerned about their spiritual well-being, encouraging them to frequent the sacraments to obtain spiritual healing. He studied theology, and, at the age of 26, was ordained to the priesthood.
Those present at his first Mass witnessed a miracle. They saw Fr. Anthony Mary Zaccaria surrounded with an extraordinary light and a crown of angels.
As a priest, Anthony worked with the poor and the sick. He was also a spiritual director and reformer. By his preaching and example, his hometown of Cremona was renewed. Then the young priest went to Milan. There he founded there the Order of Regular Clerics of Saint Paul, later called Barnabites because they were entrusted with the church of Saint Barnabas. He had a great devotion to Saint Paul and desired that his religious imitate the Apostle. The Barnabites' devotions focused chiefly on the teachings of Saint Paul and emphasized love for the Eucharist and Christ crucified. He also established a community of Sisters, called the Angelicals, and a confraternity for fathers of families. His great love for God strengthened all of his followers.
In 1536, he stepped down as general of the order and went to Vicenza, where he reformed two convents and founded the order's second house. While in Vincenza, he popularized for the laity the Forty-hour devotion accompanied by preaching. He also revived the custom of ringing church bells at 3 p.m. on Fridays, in remembrance of the Crucifixion. He left only a few writings: twelve letters, six sermons, and the constitution of the Barnabites.
When he became seriously ill, he returned to Cremona. Fr. Anthony Mary Zaccaria died when only 37 years old. Tradition says that in his last moments he had a vision of Saint Paul the Apostle. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1897. His body was found incorrupt 27 years after his death.
"That which God commands seems difficult and a burden. The way is rough; you draw back; you have no desire to follow it. Yet do so and you will attain glory."
~ St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
Saint Anthony Zaccaria,
helper of the poor and the sick,
you who devoted your life to our spiritual welfare,
listen to my humble and hopeful prayer.
Continue your work as doctor and priest
by obtaining from GOD
healing from my physical and moral sickness,
so that free from all evil and sin,
I may love the LORD with joy,
fulfill with fidelity my duties,
work generously for the good of my brothers and sisters,
and for my sanctification.Amen.