Thursday, July 05, 2007

Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest (RM)

Born in Cremona, Italy, 1502; died there, July 15, 1539; canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.

"That which God commands seems difficult and a burden. . . . The way is rough; you draw back; you have no desire to follow it. Yet do so and you will attain glory."

Antony studied medicine at the University of Padua. In 1524, at the age of 25, he set up his practice in his hometown. As a medical man he found himself ministering not only to the sick but also to the dying and the bereaved. He found man and women sick not only in the body but spiritually, and so he turned to the study of theology to learn more about the comfort and ways of God.

By 1528, it seemed natural that the young doctor should be ordained as a secular priest who pursued a spiritual and corporeal ministry. Soon he moved to work in Metan near Milan. His zeal, molded on that of Saint Paul, knew no bounds.

In 1530, he and a few other priests, including Venerable Bartholomew Ferrari and Venerable James Morigia, founded the congregation of Clerks Regular of Saint Paul, the members of which were neither monks nor friars but lived under a rule "to revive the love of divine worship and a true Christian way of life by continual preaching and faithfully administering the sacraments."

They worked among the plague-stricken Milanese, in the midst of wars, and during Luther's reforms. The group so invigorated the city's spiritual life that it was approved by Pope Clement VI in 1533 with Antony as its first provost general. The order became known as the Barnabites when, in the last year of Antony's life, the church of Saint Barnabas in Milan became the order's headquarters.

Antony resigned in 1536, helped spread the community, and worked ceaselessly to reform the Church. Under his direction, Louisa Torelli founded the congregation of women called Angelicals, who protected and rescued girls who had fallen into disreputable lives. Antony was only 37 when he died as a result of his unceasing apostolic toil

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