Feast of Saint Anthony Maria Zaccaria
St Anthony Zaccaria was born in Cremona, Lombardy, Italy in 1502. His father was Lazzaro and his mother was Pescaroli Antonia. His family was of the nobility. He was baptized immediately after birth in the Cathedral of Cremona.
His father died when he was two years old. His mother was very compassionate of the poor and wanted to teach her son St Anthony Zaccaria the same compassion for the poor. She, therefore, made him the official distributor of alms.
Anthony Zaccaria attended the Episcopal School next to the Cathedral and later studied philosophy at the University of Pavia. Thereafter, from 1520, he studied medicine at the University of Padua and graduated in 1524. After completing his studies, he practiced as a doctor in Cremona for three years. After he felt his call to priesthood, he started his priesthood studies in 1527 and received the tonsure and the minor orders on June 6 1528. In 1528 Zaccaria completed his studies in theology in Bologna and was ordained as a priest on February 20 1529 by Bishop Luca di Seriate, titular bishop of Duvno and suffragan of Cardinal Benedetto Accolti in the Chapel of St Joseph. He worked for two years in hospitals and institutions for the poor. In 1530, he went to Milan and joined the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom.
He popularized the Forty-hour solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration and also revived the practice of ringing church bells at 3 p.m. on Fridays to commemorate the passion and death of our Lord.
In Milan, he founded three religious orders namely
The Barnabites (the Clerics Regular of St Paul) for men
The Angelic Sisters of St Paul (a female branch of uncloistered nuns)
The Laity of St Paul (Lay congregation for married people). It was initially called the Married of St Paul. In North America it is known as the Oblates of St Paul.
The aim of these religious orders was to reform the degenerated society of that time, starting with the clergy and religious.
Saint Anthony Zaccaria,
helper of the poor and the sick,
you who devoted your life to our spiritual welfare,
listen to my humble and hopeful prayer.
Continue your work as doctor and priest
by obtaining from God
healing from my physical and moral sickness,
so that free from all evil and sin,
I may love the LORD with joy,
fulfill with fidelity my duties,
work generously for the good of my brothers and sisters,
and for my sanctification.