ST. ANTHONY ZACCARIA:
Founder of the Clerks Regular of St. Paul
1502 – 1539
Thanks to His Mother
It is to his mother AntoniettaPescaroli who was widowed at the very early age of 18 that our saint of the day – Anthony Zaccaria-owes his spiritual growth. It was she who not only instilled in her only child compassion and mercy for the poor but also the virtue of practical Christian charity by sending him personally to distribute all her alms.
Compensating for the loss of his father while still very young his mother assiduously saw to it that he received a solid training. Choosing to be a doctor he trained for and studied medicine at the University of Padua in Italy the country of his birth.
Becomes a Doctor
By the time he reached the age of twenty-two (some say 25) he returned home to Cremona where he, a full-fledged physician, set up his practice. For a couple of years he practiced his profession treating all sorts of sick people. In doing so he found that he was treating not only their bodies but their souls as well – ministering not only to the sick and afflicted but also to the dying and the bereaved.
Becomes a Priest
Not content in doing this and teaching catechism to the youth even as he practiced medicine devoted Anthony decided to study theology that he might learn more comfort and ways of God. By the year 1528 Anthony who was by then only 26 years of age received Holy Orders and was ordained a secular priest.
Soon he moved to Milan where he was encouraged to go as there were greater opportunities for serving his fellowman. At Milan putting himself completely at the service of everyone he joined the Confraternity of Eternal Wisdom as the purpose of the organization was to carry out various works of mercy.
Then thanks to the help of the Countess of Guastella-LuigiaTorelli, he helped co-found a community called the Angelicals – a female congregation dedicated to the rescue of fallen women and girls and those in danger of falling into sin.
Two years later he turned his attention to something else. With the help of two fellow zealous priests Anthony founded a congregation this time of priests dedicated to reviving spirituality by helping to regenerate and revive the love of Divine worship and a truly proper Christian way of life. How? By frequent preaching and the frequent faithful worthy administration of the Sacraments.
Congregation of Clerks Regular of St. Paul
This was the Congregation of Clerks Regular of St. Paul (so named by Pope Clement VII) approved by Pope Clement VI in 1533 with Anthony as its first provost general.
Together the members ministered unceasingly night and day to the people of Milan and Cremona working to overcome the deplorable conditions of the people who had been stricken by frequent wars fought on their soil resulting in famine and plagues.
Apostle of Milan
Inspired by a zeal like that of St. Paul Anthony crammed each day with an amazing record of works of charity and mercy among the sick and the poor. For his success in achieving his goal he was aptly named the “Apostle of Milan”.
Crucifix in hand Anthony was a familiar and often seen figure going through the city’s streets at all times of the day or night preaching on Our Lord’s Passion and death. Stressing on the need for repentance and for performing penance of one’s sins, Anthony made up for the neglect of the clergy by preaching whenever and wherever he could.
Because the headquarters of the group was the St. Barnabas Church which Anthony had bought for his society they were popularly known as Barnabites.
In 1536 Anthony resigned as provost general so that he might help to spread the community. The Angelicals of St. Paul which he had earlier founded was a congregation of nuns who greatly helped him to raise moral standards and strict observance in several communities of nuns.
His Death and Canonization
Worn out by his excessive and tireless labors Anthony died at the very early age of 37 on July 15, 1539.
He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.
Lesson from St. Anthony
Anthony left us this valuable lesson when he used to say: “That which God commands seems difficult and a burden, but all God’s commands are made easy by love. The way is rough; you draw back; you have no desire to follow it. Yet do so and you will attain glory.”
SOURCES of REFERENCE
ST. ANTHONY ZACCARIA
Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Vol. III pp 19 – 20
Pocket Dictionary of Saints – p 514
A Calendar of Saints – p 128
A Year With the Saints – July 5
Butler’s Saint for the day – pp 311 – 312
Illustrated Lives of the Saints – Vol. I – pp 290 – 291
My First Book of Saints – pp 143 – 144
Saint Companions – pp 245 – 246
Saint of the Day – pp 158 – 159
Voices of the Saints – pp 466 – 467