Saint Anthony of Padua

Sant'Antonio da Padova

Today marks the feast day of one of the most popular Saints, Saint Anthony of Padua. Born in Lisbon as Fernando Martins de Bulhões in 1195, the Saint took the name Anthony as he entered the Franciscan Order in 1220.

One of the most peculiar episodes regarding the Saint is the so-called “miracle of the mule” (although Jean Poyer, the artist of the illumination above, replaces the mule with a much nobler white horse). During a stay in Rimini, Italy, Saint Anthony was allegedly challenged by a nonbeliever: the man would have locked up his mule, not feeding her for several days. Had then the animal refused her hay once liberated, choosing a consecrated Host instead, the nonbeliever would have converted to Catholicism: on the contrary, he would have proven that Christ and God were not actually present in the Host. The animal was thus set free and, to everyone’s astonishment, not only did she choose the Host: the mule would have actually kneeled in adoration, thus leading her owner to accept his loss and finally convert.

“Saint Anthony of Padua and the Miracle of the Kneeling Horse”, miniature from the Hours of Henry VIII illuminated by Jean Poyer, ms. H.8, f. 185v, ca. 1500, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York.

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