Per Antonium ad Jesum
Through Anthony to Jesus. These are the memorable words used by Pope Pius XI in 1930, on the occasion of the seven-hundredth anniversary of Saint Anthony's death.
And this is truly the mission of Saint Anthony, the extraordinary saint who, to this day in the mysterious plan of divine providence, remains a great master of spiritual life, a living example of virtue and holiness, a powerful intercessor before God.
We know very well, as the Bible and the Church teach us, that the only mediator between God and man is Jesus Christ. But we also know, for our great consolation, that the saints, our brothers and sisters, have tried to perfectly imitate Jesus during their earthly lives, and, living a life of faith and heroic charity, they devoted their lives to God and their brothers and sisters. Now near Christ in heaven, they are models to imitate and are our intercessors.
For this reason, the Second Vatican Council teaches that "The Church proclaims the paschal mystery as realized in its saints who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. The Church offers them as examples to the faithful that they may attract all to the Father through Christ and, through their merits, implore benefits from God" (Sacrosantum Concilium, n. 104).
That which is 1 for all the saints is particularly 1 for Saint Anthony, whom the people of Padua refer to simply as "the Saint". He was permeated with a fervent love for Our Lord; he immersed himself in the spirit of the Gospel; he lived it personally, preaching wherever he went through his Sermones; he explained this love in his writings, and thus deserves to be proclaimed "Doctor" of the Church.
Still today Saint Anthony continues to be that which he was during his earthly existence: a light and a guide for Christians. To this day he continues to emanate the message of salvation: the message of obtaining, maintaining and increasing divine grace.
Those who have visited the Basilica in Padua, where Saint Anthony's tomb is located, can testify to the fact that, for many, Saint Anthony is truly an invitation to return to the Lord, to convert, and to begin a new life.
Throughout the year, many pilgrims come to pray at the tomb of Saint Anthony. They entrust him with their suffering, their worries, their hopes, and when they leave, they take with them solace and consolation.
Prayer to Saint Anthony is simple and direct, at times in need of enlightenment and purification.
Yet, it is without a doubt a path to draw closer to God that is within everyone's grasp. Very often, in fact, it is the simple and humble of heart, and not the erudite or famous, who are able to find the path which leads to the Lord.