Acta Sanctorum: St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria (July 5)
July 05, 2024

July 5
St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria
Life (1502-1539)

Saint Anthony Maria Zaccaria was born at Cremona, Italy, in 1502, of noble parents. His father died when very young, and his eighteen-year-old mother was left to bring up her only son in the love of God and tenderness for the poor. As a child he gave his coat to a poor beggar who was shivering with cold. He studied philosophy and medicine at the Universities of Pavia and Padua and became a licensed physician in 1524, but was striving more earnestly to care for souls than to heal their material envelope. Sometimes when he was traveling as a doctor and found abandoned children, he assembled them to teach them their Christian duties. He desired a more perfect life and wider possibilities for the apostolate of a Christian. He therefore studied theology, and was twenty-six years old when ordained in 1528.

Those present at the first Mass of Saint Anthony Maria saw him surrounded with an extraordinary light and a crown of Angels. He himself seemed to be an Angel on earth. By his preaching and example, Cremona was renewed, and then the young apostle went to Milan. To remedy disorders of every kind resulting from the war, he founded there the Order of Regular Clerics of Saint Paul, since called Barnabites because they were entrusted with the church of Saint Barnabas. He had a great devotion to Saint Paul and desired that his religious imitate the glorious Apostle. He also established a community of Sisters, called the Angelicals, and a confraternity for fathers of families. He animated all of his followers with his great love for God.

Despite opposition of various kinds, in 1532 the Constitutions of his two communities were approved by Pope Clement VII. Their founder defended his religious with persevering gentleness in all the difficulties they encountered, and recommended to them to spend their free moments in conversation with Jesus crucified. God favored him with exceptional gifts; he read in hearts and saw the future. He died when only 36 years old, in 1539, and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.

Scripture (2 Tim 1:13-114; 2:1-3)
Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. My child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well. Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

(Year B). Sanctification means putting off the old self -- namely, the things of the lower nature and all vices -- and putting on the new self according to the spirit [Col 3:9], so as to walk toward the reward of the heavenly homeland. As David said, "the just shall go from virtue to virtue; they shall see the God of gods in Zion" [Ps 84:8].

Sanctification means to love God above all things and everything else for His sake. It means to love our friends in Him, and our enemies for Him. By doing this you will be pure, peaceful, and free from anxiety.

Sanctification means turning oneself to God both internally and externally. You turn to God internally, dear friends, when you reflect on your sins or on God's blessings. Yes, you keep holy the Lord's day when you meditate within your heart on His blessings and on your faults, especially those of previous days. Alas, how many are there who neglect to do this on the Lord's day and on the other days too! On the other days, of course, you are somewhat excused on account of your jobs; but who can excuse you on the day of rest when you are free from working? No one. O wretched Christians! This practice seems nowadays to be no longer common; nonetheless you must keep it alive; for , if you do not, you fail to keep holy the Lord's day. And if you do not want to glorify God by openly admitting your faults, at least meditate on them by yourselves. But just meditating is not enough; it is necessary to unite ourselves with God by lifting up our hearts, praying and even contemplating . Actually, if you do not strive for this goal, I will not be surprised if you do not understand what prayer is, let alone contemplation.

Externally, you turn to God by means of some Scripture reading, by reciting or singing psalms, and, besides, by offering Him sacrifices: the sacrifice, of your bodies kept under control by penance for the love of God, the sacrifice of your souls eager to unite themselves with Him, but above all the sacrifice par excellence, the most holy Eucharist. No wonder that people have grown lukewarm and turned into beasts, as it were. It is because they do not receive this sacrament. The surest proof, then, of your return to God is that you go back to receive this food. Go back, my friends, go back to receive this sacrament. Nothing can make you holier than this sacrament, for in it is the Holy of Holies. Remember that Augustine exhorts you to receive Holy Communion at least once a week [Serm. 227 = PL 38,1099-1101]. Man turns externally to God also by obeying His commandments, and above all by coming to know the One who is the truth, Jesus Christ, and His Gospel, and by preaching them both to others.

Do you want, dear friends, to become holy? Imitate Christ, imitate God: be merciful, particularly on holidays, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick, set the prisoners free [Matt 25:35], plan your deeds ahead of time and perform them for God's sake; have the right intention; choose the best, fulfill what is good. In all things let love impel you.

Dear friends, let the matters we have just considered sink into your minds; then digest them thoroughly, for this is what a perfect celebration and sanctification of the Lord's day demands of you. (Sermons)

Musical Selection

Saint Anthony Mary, O model of virtues
Our glorious Protector, our homage accept.
As we celebrate you, in heavenly glory,
Our oath of allegiance to you we renew.
Our oath of allegiance to you we renew.

As standard you lifted, the Cross of salvation,
The faithful inviting to fight and to win:
To banish lukewarmness, the worst foe of Christians,
The Church making perfect, rejoicing in Christ.
The Church making perfect, rejoicing in Christ.

The Eucharist preaching, you lover of Jesus,
The means of perfection to souls back you gave.
Will you be more faithful to Christian perfection?
You told them: come, share in the breaking of bread.
You told them: come, share in the breaking of bread.

You took as a pattern Saint Paul, the Apostle,
The Doctor of Nations you followed and loved.
We also your children, with love and in study
Do promise to follow exemplar so great.
Do promise to follow exemplar so great.

Remember O Father, Saint Anthony Mary,
Your family grateful here kneeling in prayer.
Present us your children, to God of all Mercy;
May ever you lead us to heaven above.
May ever you lead us to heaven above.

enable us to grasp in the spirit of the apostle Paul
that surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ
which inspired Saint Anthony Zaccaria
to preach the message of salvation in your Church.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)