Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria

Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria

In 1502, Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born in Cremona, Italy, into a noble family. A short time after Anthony was born, his father Lazzaro passed away, and at the age of 18, his mother Antonietta decided not to remarry in favor of devoting herself to her son's education and engaging in charity endeavors.

Anthony followed in his mother's footsteps by being kind to the underprivileged and devout to God. In his early years, he received tutoring in Latin and Greek. Later, he was transferred to Pavia to study philosophy. After completing his studies in medicine at the University of Padua, he returned to Cremona at the age of 22.

The young physician, though of secular training and nobility, had no desire to get married or amass a fortune. In addition to tending to his patients' physical ailments, he encouraged them to seek spiritual health via sacraments and penance.

Anthony continued to assist in young adults' religious formation while also serving as a catechism teacher for youngsters. Ultimately, he decided to give up practicing medicine, and with his spiritual director's support, he started preparing for the priesthood.

Anthony was ordained as a priest at the age of 26, and at the consecration of the Eucharist, he is reported to have witnessed a miraculous event in which he was encircled by a plethora of angels and a supernatural light. Witnesses of the time were astounded by what had happened and attested to it after his passing.

In Cremona, church life had declined in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. Many members of the church were corrupt or weak, and the new priest faced widespread ignorance and religious indifference among the general public.

Anthony Mary Zaccaria dedicated his life to sharing the gospel's principles clearly and compassionately despite these harsh conditions. His impassioned sermons and unceasing pastoral care are credited for drastically altering the moral fiber of the city in less than two years.

Anthony relocated to Milan in 1530, where he found a similar culture of religious neglect and corruption. He decided to form the Clerics Regular of St. Paul, a priestly order, there.

The order was established with a vision of poverty, preaching, asceticism, and humility, all influenced by the life and teachings of the apostle. They were given a well-known church named St. Barnabas upon the founder's passing, and people started referring to them as "Barnabites."

The priest also established the Laity of St. Paul, a group dedicated to the sanctification of people outside of the priesthood and monastic life, as well as the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul, a women's religious order. The "40 Hours" devotion, which involves constant prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, was pioneered by him.

After falling gravely ill in 1539, Anthony went back to his mother's home in Cremona. At the liturgical octave of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, on July 5, the founder of the Clerics Regular of St. Paul passed away at the age of 36.

Nearly three decades after his death, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria's remains were found to be incorrupt. In 1849, Blessed Pope Pius IX beatified him, and in 1897, Pope Leo XIII canonized him a saint.

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