Today is the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua, who died on this day in 1231. Born in Lisbon, Portugal as Fernando Martins de Bulhões, Anthony first pursued the religious life as an Augustinian but transferred to the Franciscan Order in 1221 after the deaths of five Franciscan martyrs who were brought to Anthony’s monastery in Coimbra on their way home for burial. Anthony traveled to Morocco to continue the work of the martyrs, but upon his return trip was diverted to Sicily by a great storm. From there he traveled to Tuscany and settled in Forlì. Towards the end of his short life (he died in his mid 30s), Anthony settled in Padua as Provincial Superior for the Franciscan Order in Northern Italy. Anthony succumbed to illness in 1231 and was canonized remarkably quickly by Pope Gregory IX in the following year.
The saint is recognizable by his youthful appearance and Franciscan habit — a simple brown robe and rope belt, and he typically holds a book, lilies, or appears with the infant Jesus, whom he saw in a miraculous vision. Today is often invoked as the finder of lost things as in this popular North American version: “Dear St. Anthony, please come ‘round. Something’s been lost and can’t be found.”
Simone Martini, St. Anthony of Padua and St Francis, 1320-25, fresco, Cappella di San Martino, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi
Benozzo Gozzoli, St Anthony of Padua, 1450s, panel, Santa Maria d’ Aracoeli, Rome
Piero della Francesca, Polyptych of St Anthony, c. 1470, panel, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia — commissioned by the nuns of the convent of Sant’Antonio da Padova in Perugia
Cosmè Tura, St. Anthony of Padua Reading, c. 1475, wood, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Bernardo Zenale, St. Anthony of Padua, 1502-07, panel, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan from an altarpiece in the church of San Francesco, Cantù.
Titian, Madonna and Child with Sts Anthony of Padua and Roch, c. 1511, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid
Titian, View of the Sala Capitolare with scenes from the life of St. Anthony, 1511, frescoes, Scuola del Santo, Padua
Guercino, St Anthony of Padua with the Infant Christ, 1656, oil on canvas, private collection
Carlo Francesco Nuvulone, St Anthony of Padua and the Infant Christ, 17th century, oil on panel, private collection
Sebastiano Ricci, St Anthony of Padua Healing a Youth, c. 1690, oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris