Saint of the Day – 9 April – Blessed Antony of Pavoni (1326-1374) Priest and Martyr
BLESSED ANTONY was born about the year 1326 of the noble Piedmontese family of the Pavoni. His father was at the head of a school of music; he also held some important municipal offices in the town of Savigliano. After a childhood of great promise, Antony, at the age of fifteen, received the Dominican habit. His extraordinary learning, his eloquence, his practical talents for government and, most of all, the sanctity of his life, caused him to be raised to important offices; and, after the martyrdom of Blessed Peter Ruffia, he was appointed his successor as Inquisitor-General in Piedmont, Upper Lombardy, and the Genoese territory, then much infected by the Waldensian heresy. Being made Prior of Savigliano in the year 1368, he undertook the rebuilding of his Convent on so noble a scale that Provincial Chapters,and even a General Chapter, were subsequently held there.
The indefatigable labours of Blessed Antony for the conversion of the heretics rendered him an object of hatred in their eyes, and they determined to rid themselves of so formidable an enemy. The holy man had long prayed that the grace of martyrdom might be vouchsafed to him, and God revealed to him the day and hour of his death. Transported with joy, he thenceforth had continually on his lips the words of the Psalmist, “I have rejoiced at the things that are said unto me; we will go into the house of the Lord.” Regardless of the threats of the heretics, he persevered with renewed zeal in his apostolic labours, patiently awaiting the accomplishment of the Divine will.
On the eve of his death, he went, radiant with joy, to a barber of Bricherasio, in which town he was then preaching and bade him shave him well, “for,” said he, “I am invited to a wedding.” “That cannot be,” replied the man; “all the news of the town comes to my shop and if a wedding had been in preparation, I should certainly have heard of it.” “Believe me,” answered Blessed Antony, “I am telling you the truth.”
The following day, being Low Sunday, April 9, A.D. 1374, after a night spent in prayer, the holy man for the last time offered the Holy Sacrifice and preached in refutation of the Waldensian errors. On leaving the church after his thanksgiving, he was attacked by seven armed men, who inflicted many wounds on him and finally hacked his body to pieces, in presence of the weeping multitude, who had not the courage to stop the brutal deed. The sacred remains were brought to the Convent at Savigliano and many miracles were worked at the Martyr’s tomb.
Like his namesake, the glorious Saint Anthony of Padua, Blessed Antony of Pavoni, as the Lessons of his Office in the Dominican Breviary testify, is invoked by the faithful specially for the recovery of things lost. A gentleman of the name of Brian Taparelli, having mislaid a legal document, for lack of which he was exposed to the danger of imprisonment and almost total ruin, made a vow to the holy Martyr, promising to offer a candle of fifty pounds’ weight at his tomb if he recovered the deed. The following night, Blessed Antony appeared to him in his sleep and told him where he would find the missing document.
In the year 1468, Blessed Aimo Taparelli, a kinsman of the gentleman just mentioned, having a great devotion to Blessed Antony, caused his holy relics to be solemnly translated to a more worthy resting-place.
Pius IX. raised both these holy men to the altars of the Church.
O God, who, to promote the unity of the faith, didst endow Blessed Antony, Thy Martyr, with invincible fortitude of soul, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so follow in his footsteps as to attain the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.