St Anthony of Padua was one of the most powerful preachers of the thirteenth century, he had a voice that could carry a great distance and could by his loving and brilliant personality overwhelm the sinful and turn them to the love of God.
He was born in Portugal of a well to do family, but left all their wealth behind to become a poor friar following in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi. It was his ambition to go to Morocco and convert Muslims, but the moment he arrived there he fell ill and had no choice but to return home. God had another plan for Anthony and the ship he was traveling in was blown off course and landed in Sicily. For a while he became a hermit until one day the Franciscans arrived for worship and found that no one had prepared a sermon, so Anthony stood up and preached and his remarkable talent was discovered and used fully by the church thereafter.
In his lifetime and after his death so many miracles were attributed to his intercession that he became known as “The wonder worker”. In Rimini as he preached by a river the fish leapt from the water onto the bank. Once he was preaching on the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist when a man laughed and said that he would not accept this belief unless his donkey accepted it first. St Anthony took up the challenge and told the man not to feed his donkey for the day, but to return the following day with the donkey and a bucket of corn. The next day the man returned, and St Antony asked him to stand at one end of the Village Square with the bucket of corn, while he stood at the other with the Consecrated Host. Not only did the donkey ignore the bucket of corn but also he walked straight to the Host and knelt down on his front legs. Needless to say the man was converted.
St Anthony is the patron saint of Portugal and of the poor.