St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
St. Antony Mary Zaccaria
When he lived:
St. Antony Mary Zaccaria lived from 1502 to 1539.
Where he lived:
St. Antony Mary Zaccaria was born in Cremona, Lombardy, Italy, in 1502. He spent most of his life in Milan, where he founded the Barnabites, a religious congregation.
Notable world events during the time of his life:
- The Renaissance (14th – 17th centuries)
St. Antony Mary Zaccaria’s life coincided with the flourishing of the Renaissance, a period of cultural and intellectual rebirth. Great artists, thinkers, and scholars made significant contributions during this time, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Copernicus. The Renaissance’s ideas and creativity influenced society and laid the groundwork for future developments in art, science, and philosophy.
- Protestant Reformation (1517 – 1648)
In 1517, Martin Luther’s act of nailing his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg sparked the Protestant Reformation. The movement led to significant religious and political changes across Europe, challenging the authority of the Catholic Church and creating divisions among Christian communities. St. Antony Mary Zaccaria’s life was profoundly impacted by these religious upheavals, shaping his spiritual journey and his efforts to promote Catholic reform and renewal.
- Age of Exploration (15th – 17th centuries)
During St. Antony Mary Zaccaria’s lifetime, European explorers embarked on ambitious voyages, discovering new lands and establishing trade routes. Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the Americas (1492) and Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe (1519-1522) marked notable milestones in the Age of Exploration. The encounters with new cultures and the exchange of goods and knowledge significantly impacted global history.
- Scientific Revolution (16th – 17th centuries)
St. Antony Mary Zaccaria lived during a period of great scientific advancement. The Scientific Revolution challenged traditional beliefs and introduced revolutionary ideas in astronomy, physics, and biology. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published his work “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium,” proposing a heliocentric model of the solar system, which shifted the understanding of the cosmos and humankind’s place within it.
St. Antony Mary Zaccaria is the patron saint of physicians and the Barnabite religious congregation. As a prominent reformer and founder of the Barnabites, he is venerated for his dedication to spiritual renewal and his contributions to the Catholic Church. Physicians also seek his intercession for guidance in their healing ministry, honoring his devotion to providing medical care to the sick and needy during times of epidemics and social crises.
A saint in the making
Anthony Mary was born in Cremona towards the end of the year 1502 to the noble family of Zaccaria. The Zaccaria clan had served the city in times past with no less than eighteen governors. His father, Lazzaro, died shortly after Anthony’s birth. His mother, Antonietta, refused numerous suitors in order that she might devote herself entirely to the education and upbringing of her son and to works of charity.
Anthony grew up in the faith through the pious care of his mother. He was described as an obedient and pious child. At an early age, he developed a great love for his neighbor. He had been blessed with such a profound disposition and a heart full of compassion for the needy.
Anthony was taught the fundamental elements of Latin, Greek, and Italian. He had shown exceptional strength in virtue and firmness in his Christian convictions. Later on, his mother sent him to study philosophy. From there, he studied medicine in Padua. As a student, the school, his house, and the church were the only places Anthony frequented. He wanted to have a few good friends. He was able to avoid things that might compromise his dreams.
A Physician of Body and Soul
Eventually, due to his diligence and focus, Anthony became a doctor at the age of twenty-two. He was determined to be of greater help to those around him. He thought that a doctor who is animated by Christ could be of great help to his neighbors. He then returned to his native city in the year 1524. He quickly gained numerous connections in his city. His nobility, modesty, and skill soon gained him the esteem and confidence of all.
Anthony’s way of practicing medicine was quite unusual. He was persuaded that all evils arise from one cause: sin. For him, in order to cure the body, it was necessary to cure the soul first. When he went to the sick, he first exhorted them to think of God, ask for forgiveness, and receive the sacraments. He would also carry with him generous alms for the poor.
As a young boy, Anthony desired to become a priest. While he was exercising his profession, Anthony was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any inheritance in the future and worked as a catechist. He would often gather young and abandoned children in the streets and teach them about the Christian faith. Soon, his confessor, Father Marcello, exhorted him to also teach children from wealthy families.
In the year 1528, at the age of 26, Anthony was ordained to the priesthood. He was called to Milan in a few years, where he laid the foundations of three religious congregations: one for men, one for women, and an association of married couples. His days were filled with preaching in churches and on street corners. He dedicated much of his time to the assiduous study of the Scriptures as well as the writings of the Holy Fathers, especially the Epistles of St. Paul. From these, he drew his deep and triumphant eloquence.
After the Example of St. Paul
Soon after, Anthony took St. Paul as his model and patron. His apostolate has won over several men who wanted to join him in his work. And so, Anthony founded a religious order dedicated to this task according to the spirit of St. Paul, whose zeal they should imitate. Thus, the Congregation of Clerics Regular of St. Paul was born.
Anthony’s congregation lived in poverty and simplicity. They also practiced mortification at a higher level. They instructed children and the ignorant about the faith. They spent long hours in the confessional, drawing many people to frequent the churches and to approach the sacraments. They also devoted a part of their time to taking care of the sick in the hospitals.
Anthony made himself all to all by his zeal. However, his body had become weak. His labors, coupled with great mortifications, had greatly affected his health. Being seriously ill, he was moved to Cremona, to his mother’s house. On July 5, 1539, after having received the last sacraments, Anthony died peacefully. He was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1849 and declared a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1897. His feast day is July 5.
Five Interesting Facts About St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
- The Congregation of Clerics Regular of St. Paul is also known as the Barnabites in honor of St. Barnabas, the companion of St. Paul.
- St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria introduced the forty-hour devotion to lay people. He encouraged people to join him in praying for forty hours before the Blessed Sacrament.
- St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria’s first Mass included a miracle. A heavenly light surrounded him during the consecration. It is also said that angels appeared beside him.
- Tradition says that during his last moments on earth, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria saw visions of St. Paul the Apostle.
- Nearly three decades after his death, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria’s body was found to be incorrupt.
Prayer to St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
Grant, O Lord, that in the spirit of the Apostle Paul we may pursue the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, for, having learned it,Saint Anthony Zaccaria constantly preached your saving word in the Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,God, for ever and ever Amen.