AMONG THE POOR – Saint Anthony of Pavoni, Dominican monk and martyr

Today’s saint of the day is Saint Anthony of Pavoni, Dominican monk and priest who was martyred for the faith. Born in Savigliano, Italy, in 1326; he died in Turin, Italy, in 1374. He is the patron saint of lost articles, like his Franciscan namesake, St Anthony of Padua.

Saint Anthony of Pavoni was a virtuous, intelligent youth. At 15, he was received into the Dominican monastery of Savigliano, was ordained a priest in 1351, and almost immediately began fighting the Albigensian heresies of the time.

In 1360, Pope Urban V appointed him inquisitor-general of Lombardy and Genoa. It was a demanding and dangerous job for a young priest of 34. It was not only a death sentence to anyone who held the position, but it also carried with it the necessity of arguing with the intellectuals of the time whose thoughts were twisted by perverse and elusive heresies.

Saint Anthony of Pavoni worked tirelessly in his hometown, where his apostolate lasted 14 years. During this period, he accomplished a great deal by his preaching, and even more by his example of Christian virtue. He was elected prior of the monastery of Savigliano in 1368, and given the job of building a new abbey. This he achieved without any censure of its luxury–a charge that the heretics were consistently eager to make against Catholics.

Anthony’s simple, meager lifestyle troubled the heretics, who had always been able to gain ground with the poor by pointing out the wealth and extravagance of religious houses. He went among the poor and let them see that he was one of them. They were unable to attack him personally. This so angered the heretics that they decided they must kill him. He was preaching in a little village near Turin when they caught him.

On the Sunday after Easter, as he finished preaching a dynamic sermon against heresy at Brichera, seven heretics fell upon him with their daggers. He was buried in the Dominican church at Savigliano, where his tomb was a place of pilgrimage until 1827. At that time, the relics were transferred to the Dominican church of Racconigi.


Compiled from by Tej Francis

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