Saint Anthony Zaccaria

Saint Anthony Zaccaria (+1539), from noble lineage in late-renaissance Italy, was born in Rome in 1502, on the cusp of the Protestant revolt against the Catholic Church. But the mayhem at this point was mostly in far-off northern Europe, and did not impact Anthony’s life at first. He studied medicine, practising for three years, after which he underwent a deeper conversion, realizing the greater need for spiritual healing. He entered the formative process for the priesthood, adopting a life of great discipline and zeal, preaching and administering the sacraments, with an emphasis on the humanity and sufferings of Christ. A truly ‘charismatic’ man, three apostolates formed around his own apostolic activity: The Barnabites, or officially, the ‘Clerics Regular of Saint Paul’, inspired by the teachings of Apostle; a female branch, the Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul; and, for single and married people, the Laity of Saint Paul.

All were dedicated to renewing the Church and rooting out abuses, an apostolate that is always-needed. Ecclesia semper reformanda est – a Church always in need of reform. Father Anthony, as one of those panoply of saints in the devotio moderna, also popularized the ‘Forty Hours Devotion’ of continuous adoration, which is still held in various places, including the Oratory in Toronto. As well, he would have the church bells rung at 3 p.m. on Friday in remembrance of the crucifixion, a prelude of the future devotion to the Divine Mercy. Father Anthony died, full of good works, at the young age of 36, of a fever, exacerbated by his penitential life. His body was found incorrupt 27 years later, and he was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on May 27th, 1897, declared one of the patron saints of physicians, who could certainly use his intercession.

Saint Anthony Zaccaria, ora pro nobis!

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