St. Anthony of Padua
Anthony was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, during the late 12th and early century. He later entered the community of Canons Regular there, against his wealthy family's wishes. After he was ordained to the priesthood, Anthony contracted a strong desire to be martyred for the Faith. He came into contact with several Franciscans and, awed by their stories of foriegn missionary work and martyrdom, obtained permission to leave the Augustinian Canons and join the Franciscans. The would-be martyr tried to sail for Muslim dominated Morocco to preach the Good News, but first illness and then ship wreck prevented him from reaching his destination.
Anthony went to Italy where he was universally recognized for his brilliance and zeal. His gift as a preacher and teacher inspired his superiors to send him on local "missions trips" in Northern Italy. Not only was he capable of making an impression with his inspired words, but he worked wonders such as healings and supernatural phenomena. One famous story tells how Anthony was rejected by the hard-headed inhabitants of a certain town. He responded by declaring that if the people would not hear the Word of God, he would preach to the fish. He did just that, and the finned listeners leapt out of the water in jubilation at his message. Another famous story tells how Anthony's Bible was stolen and his prayers brought about the repentence of the robber and the return of the precious manuscript, thus making Anthony patron of lost items. He is also said to have been visited by Our Lady and to have held the Christ Child in his arms. After his deathin Padua, Italy, miracles continued, and he was canonized soon after. The tongue of St. Anthony remains an incorrupt relic, and his feast is celebrated on June 13.
Alban was a 4th century pagan Briton who lived in what is today the town of St. Alban's in Hertfordshire, England. He was on good terms with the Roman officials and possibly served in the Roman Army. When the persecution of Christians was unleashed by the Imperial government, Alban was asked by a friend to help hide a Christian priest from the authorities. Reluctantly, Alban complied. The priest showed such a spiritual depth and gentleness of character that Alban was converted to Christianity. When Roman soldiers raided Alban's home, he switched robes with the priest to allow him to escape and was arrested. Professing Christianity before the authorities and refusing to recant, Alban was tortured and sentenced to death.
As he was led to the place of execution, crowds turned out to watch, blocking the bridge which the party had to cross. Not wishing to be hindered from receiving his martyr's crown. Alban knelt down and prayed for a miracle. As he did so, the waters of the river parted and the group was able to cross to the execution place on dry ground. The man prepared to execute him was amazed by the miracle and converted to Christianity on the spot. Then he too was sentenced to death. The second execution beheaded both of them and was struck blind. A spring gushed forth on the spot, and Alban is recognized as the first martyr among many in Britain. His feast is June 22.
St. Thomas More & St. John Fisher
Thomas More, proto-martyr of English Catholicism, was indeed "a man for all seasons." He was a lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and Renaissance humanist. He served as the Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII, and introduced the world to the concept of a perfect society known as "Utopia". He was also a devout Catholic and family man who sought to please God in all things. More's wry sense of humor and cutting common sense were legend, and his dilligent pursuit of knowlege and wisdom set him on a course first for worldly greatness, and then for the ultimate sacrifice.
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was a devout prelate with a humble and caring spirit. His loyalty to the See of Rome was outdone by none, and his strong moral convictions were shaken by none. He became the confessor of Margaret Beaufort, the pious grandmother of Henry VIII, and was renowned in Europe for his written arguments against the doctrinal misconceptions of Martin Luther.
When King Henry VIII made clear his plans to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn, John Fisher spoke out on the Queen's behalf. Thomas More decided to keep silent on the issue. However, the situation took a fatal twist when Henry decided to break away from the Catholic Church and name himself "Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England". More and Fisher jointly refused to take the oath acknowledging the king's knew userped titles on the grounds of conscientious objection. Both men were locked in the Tower of London to await trial.
Both were found guilty of treason, and executed, remaining strong in their convictions and in the Catholic Faith. Famously, St. Thomas joked about sparing his beird from being hacked off by the axeman since it was not guilty of treaons, and declared, "I die the king's good servant, but God's first." The feast of both English martyrs is celebrated on June 22, the same day that the feast of St. Alban, first martyr of Britain, is celebrated.
And let us not forget those Super Saints on which the Early Church was built:
St. John the Baptist (June 24) and Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29)!!!
All Ye Holy Angels and Saints, pray for us!
|St. Anthony of Padua|
|St. Alban of Britain|
|St. John Fisher (left) and St. Thomas More (right)|