Doctor of the Church, Patron of the Poor, Italy (1195-1231)
Feast day—June 13
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
St. Anthony was devoted to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady from his childhood, when he served Mass for his uncle who was a priest. St. Anthony is known for his defense of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, miracles and conversions. Before his death, St. Anthony received the last Sacraments and said “I see my Lord.” He proclaimed:
“Upon the Altar there takes place the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. That Body which the Virgin begot, which hung upon the Cross and was placed in the sepulchre, which rose again the third day, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, this Body the Church today and everyday presents and distributes to her faithful. When the priest speaks the words: This is My Body, the essence of the bread is changed into the Body of Christ.”
“Anthony was a friend of St. Francis and became a Franciscan priest. He was a great preacher on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and told everyone he met about his love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. St. Anthony was also known as a great miracle worker who loved the poor and sick people very much. Wherever he went, St. Anthony performed many miracles to help feed the poor, heal the sick, and care for the needy. He is known as a great Doctor of the Church, patron of the poor, and finder of the lost.” (From our book Adoration for Children. See the Catalog section of our website for ordering information).
There was a man named Bononillo who did not believe that the Eucharist is Jesus. He mocked of people who believed that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
One day, St. Anthony challenged the man, saying, "If the mule you often ride were to adore the true Body of Christ under the appearance of bread, would you believe in the truth of the Lord's Sacrament?" Bononillo said "Yes." So, they made a bet. In a few days they would place both the Blessed Sacrament and a pile of hay in front of the mule, to see what he would do.
Bononillo told everyone about the event. Because he wanted to make sure to prove that he was right and St. Anthony was wrong, he didn't give the donkey any food for two days before the test. Of course, he thought, the mule will be so hungry that he will not even look at the Eucharist, but run straight to his food.
On the day of the test Bononillo led the donkey toward where St. Anthony was standing with the Blessed Sacrament, in front of a great crowd. When they were a few steps away from the Holy Eucharist, Bononillo placed a bag of hay under the mule's nose, but the mule turned his head. The mule walked over to St. Anthony, and when he was close, bent his front legs as if to kneel in Adoration! Even Bononillo saw that the Sacred Host is really Jesus—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—and believed in Him.
St. Anthony loved Jesus in the Holy Eucharist very much, so he told everyone he met about His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. (From our book Stories of the Eucharist).
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