St. Anthony of Padua – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson – Discerning Hearts Podcast

St. Anthony of Padua Doctor of Church Matthew Bunson PodcastSt. Anthony of Padua – The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom with Dr. Matthew Bunson

  • Born: August 15, 1195, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Died: June 13, 1231, Padua, Italy
  • Buried: Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Padua, Italy
  • Parents: Vicente Martins , Teresa Pais Taveira

Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses with Kris McGregor the life and legacy of St. Anthony of Padua. They explore his widespread veneration and many patronages, emphasizing that although many know him for his aid in finding lost items, his theological contributions are equally significant. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, not Italy, and his birth name was Fernando Martins. Initially an Augustinian, he later joined the Franciscans, inspired by the martyrdom of five Franciscan friars in Morocco.

His theological brilliance and dedication to a life of prayer led to his significant role within the Franciscan order. Known for his powerful preaching and conversion of heretics, Anthony was also a spiritual director and confessor. His sermons, deeply rooted in scripture and theological interpretation, earned him the title of Doctor of the Church. Despite his early death at 35, Anthony’s legacy endures through his teachings and miracles, including the famous story of preaching to the fish.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding Anthony’s Legacy: How does learning about St. Anthony’s theological contributions and not just his popular image deepen your appreciation of his role in the Church?
  2. Recognizing True Patronage: What does St. Anthony’s extensive list of patronages tell us about his impact on various aspects of life and faith?
  3. The Call to Religious Life: How did St. Anthony’s journey from an Augustinian to a Franciscan inspire you to consider the different paths one might take in following God’s call?
  4. Impact of Martyrdom: How does the martyrdom of the five Franciscan friars in Morocco reflect on the sacrifice and commitment required in religious life?
  5. The Power of Preaching: In what ways can St. Anthony’s dedication to preaching and his ability to convert heretics inspire you in your own faith journey and evangelization efforts?
  6. Encounter with St. Francis: What can we learn from St. Anthony’s transformative encounter with St. Francis about the importance of mentorship and guidance in spiritual growth?
  7. Balancing Knowledge and Humility: How did St. Anthony’s ability to balance profound theological knowledge with humility and simplicity serve as a model for contemporary faith practice?
  8. Theological Legacy: How does understanding the theological traditions established by St. Anthony within the Franciscan Order influence your view of the Order’s teachings and practices?
  9. Spiritual Teachings: How can St. Anthony’s method of interpreting scripture using the four senses (literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical) enhance your personal scripture study and reflection?
  10. Miracles and Holiness: What lessons can be drawn from the stories of St. Anthony’s miracles, such as preaching to the fish and his incorrupt tongue, about the nature of sanctity and divine approval?
  11. Enduring Influence: How does reflecting on St. Anthony’s enduring influence, despite his early death, inspire you to consider the lasting impact of a life devoted to faith and service?

For more on St. Anthony of Padua and his teachings

From, an excerpt from the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI :

From the General Audience on St. Anthony of Padua

“With his outstanding gifts of intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and, primarily, mystic fervour, Anthony contributed significantly to the development of Franciscan spirituality.

In St Anthony’s teaching on prayer we perceive one of the specific traits of the Franciscan theology that he founded: namely the role assigned to divine love which enters into the sphere of the affections, of the will and of the heart, and which is also the source from which flows a spiritual knowledge that surpasses all other knowledge. In fact, it is in loving that we come to know.

Anthony writes further: “Charity is the soul of faith, it gives it life; without love, faith dies” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi II, Messagero, Padua 1979, p. 37).

It is only the prayerful soul that can progress in spiritual life: this is the privileged object of St Anthony’s preaching. He is thoroughly familiar with the shortcomings of human nature, with our tendency to lapse into sin, which is why he continuously urges us to fight the inclination to avidity, pride and impurity; instead of practising the virtues of poverty and generosity, of humility and obedience, of chastity and of purity. At the beginning of the 13th century, in the context of the rebirth of the city and the flourishing of trade, the number of people who were insensitive to the needs of the poor increased. This is why on various occasions Anthony invites the faithful to think of the true riches, those of the heart, which make people good and merciful and permit them to lay up treasure in Heaven. “O rich people”, he urged them, “befriend… the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will subsequently be they who receive you in the eternal tabernacles in which is the beauty of peace, the confidence of security and the opulent tranquillity of eternal satiety” (ibid., p. 29).

Anthony, in the school of Francis, always put Christ at the centre of his life and thinking, of his action and of his preaching. This is another characteristic feature of Franciscan theology: Christocentrism. Franciscan theology willingly contemplates and invites others to contemplate the mysteries of the Lord’s humanity, the man Jesus, and in a special way the mystery of the Nativity: God who made himself a Child and gave himself into our hands, a mystery that gives rise to sentiments of love and gratitude for divine goodness.

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For more from Dr. Matthew Bunson, check out his Discerning Hearts page.

Dr. Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor and a senior contributor to EWTN News. For the past 20 years, he has been active in the area of Catholic social communications and education, including writing, editing, and teaching on a variety of topics related to Church history, the papacy, the saints and Catholic culture. He is faculty chair at Catholic Distance University, a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and the author or co-author of over 50 books including The Encyclopedia of Catholic History, The Pope Encyclopedia, We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, The Saints Encyclopedia and best-selling biographies of St. Damien of Molokai and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.