Many Catholic Churches have statues of great saints, holy people who have left their mark on the Church by the way they have lived lives of heroic faith and sanctity, and thus have inspired others to do the same. One of these great saints is St. Anthony of Padua. He is often depicted holding the child Jesus in his arms, or with Jesus at his side, due to the fact that Jesus often appeared as a child to St. Anthony.
He was not born "Anthony" and was not born in Padua, Italy, but his life and journey eventually brought him to those two realities. He was born into a wealthy family and began to pursue a religious life from a very young age, entering a monastery at the tender age of 15. The time in which he lived was fraught with political uncertainty and religious tensions between Catholics, Muslims, and the Jewish people in medieval Spain. The Catholics were in the process of reclaiming the Iberian peninsula, and began a campaign of sending missionaries to North Africa and crusaders to the Holy Land. In the midst of all this, St. Anthony knew clearly that he wanted to be an Augustinian monk, but he would study, switch religious orders, and become acquainted with the great St. Francis of Assisi after becoming a Franciscan. He was perhaps best known for his incredible skill in preaching, a skill that he came to discover almost by pure accident.
His life was one of teaching, preaching, and simple, humble faith. After his death, he quickly earned the name "Saint" and centuries later became one of the "Doctors of the Church", a great honor reserved for particularly holy and influential souls. Though Saint Anthony lived a relatively short life, his intense faith and theological knowledge enabled him to become an accomplished preacher and teacher, earning him the devotion of millions of Catholics throughout history.
History in 30: The Life of St. Anthony of Padua quickly but comprehensively examines the remarkable impact St. Anthony had on Christianity.