Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria (1502-1539), founder of three religious societies dedicate to Saint Paul. Saint Anthony worked tirelessly for the conversion and repentance of sinners, spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and encouraged frequent Eucharistic participation. His devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the teachings of Saint Paul guided his work and the religious communities he founded—communities still in existence today. In his short life, Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria modeled true devotion and love of Jesus, especially the crucifixion.
"Unfurl your flags for Jesus Crucified is about to send you to proclaim everywhere the vital energy of the Spirit."
His gifted mind allowed him to excel at scholastic endeavors, and he studied both philosophy and medicine, eventually practicing as a doctor for three years. During that time Anthony felt more and more called not to the healing of men’s bodies, but of their souls, and eventually pursued theological studies. Drawn to the priesthood, Anthony was ordained in 1528, at the age of 26, and served the community—particularly those in hospitals and in need—for two years.
"Do not think that my love for you or the good qualities you are endowed with, may have me desire that you be just little saints. No, I greatly desire that you become great saints, since you are well equipped to reach this goal... All that is required is that you really mean to develop and give back to Jesus Crucified, in a more refined form, the good qualities and graces He has given you."
The main devotion and teachings of the orders founded by Saint Anthony were those of Saint Paul, with an emphasis on love for the Eucharist and the suffering of Christ crucified. Dedicated to reformation of the clergy, Saint Anthony earned himself enemies within the church, and was twice accused of heresy (both times acquitted). So humble, he refused to serve as superior of his orders, instead traveling, reforming convents and monasteries, and extending the membership of the laity.
"You are my crown and my glory, so much so that some day I will make our holy Apostle Paul feel envious of me on account of you. In fact you are not inferior to his [spiritual] daughters in your great desire to suffer for Christ, in your total contempt of worldliness and self-denial, and in your striving to lead people to a spiritual renewal and to Jesus Crucified who is despised so much."
Saint Anthony is also known for popularizing the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, known as the Forty-hour devotion. He also is said to have originated the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays, in recognition of the hour of the crucifixion of Christ.
“We are fools for Christ’s sake: our holy guide and most revered patron was speaking about himself and the rest of the apostles, and about the other people who profess the Christian and apostolic way of life. But there is no reason, dear brothers, that we should be surprised or afraid; for the disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. We should love and feel compassion for those who oppose us, rather than abhor and despise them, since they harm themselves and do us good, and adorn us with crowns of everlasting glory while they incite God’s anger against themselves. And even more than this, we should pray for them and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by goodness. We should heap good works like red-hot coals of burning love upon their heads, as our Apostle urges us to do, so that when they become aware of our tolerance and gentleness they may undergo a change of heart and be prompted to turn in love to God.
In his mercy God has chosen us, unworthy as we are, out of the world, to serve him and thus to advance in goodness and to bear the greatest possible fruit of love in patience. We should take encouragement not only from the hope of sharing in the glory of God’s children, but also from the hardships we undergo.
Consider your calling, dearest brothers; if we wish to think carefully about it we shall see readily enough that its basis demands that we who have set out to follow, admittedly from afar, the footsteps of the holy apostles and the other soldiers of Christ, should not be unwilling to share in their sufferings as well. We should keep running steadily in the race we have started, not losing sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. And so since we have chosen such a great Apostle as our guide and father and claim to follow him, we should try to put his teaching and example into practice in our lives. Such a leader should not be served by faint-hearted troops, nor should such a parent find his sons unworthy of him.”
enable us to grasp in the spirit of Saint Paul,
the sublime wisdom of Jesus Christ,
the wisdom which inspired Saint Anthony Zaccaria
to preach the message of salvation in your church.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."