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St. Anthony Mary Claret: the St. Dominic of the 19th century

Voices Nov 7, 2017

St. Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870) was an ardent promoter of the rosary and was called the "St. Dominic" of the 19th century.

The years 1830 to 1954 were known as the "age of Mary." During that period, there were saintly men who promoted devotion to Our Lady. One such man was St. Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870).

Anthony was born in Sallent, Spain. When he was very young, his parents gave him a rosary, which he prayed daily at home. His parents had a book on the rosary, and after reading it he became an ardent promoter of the rosary. He made frequent visits to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fusimanya with his sister Rosa to pray the rosary. He also frequently led the recitation of the rosary at the local parish.

As he began his seminary studies in 1829, Anthony began his lifelong practice of praying three rosaries a day. Anthony was ordained on June 13, 1835, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua. He tried the Jesuit novitiate but had to leave due to ill health. He then devoted himself to preaching retreats and missions, always emphasizing devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. As one of the most popular preachers in Spain, Father Anthony sometimes gave as many as 12 sermons a day.

During a trip to Italy in 1839, Father Anthony witnessed the great devotion of the people to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This experience helped deepen his devotion to the Immaculate Heart. In 1847, Father Anthony founded the Archconfraternity of the Heart of Mary and in 1849, he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians). The traditional profession formula of the Claretians contains a special consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Father Anthony understood the Immaculate Heart to be a new Noah's ark and mercy seat.

Father Anthony was consecrated a bishop on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in 1850. A few days before his episcopal ordination, a Mass-goer saw heavenly lights surrounding Father Anthony as he was offering Mass at a rosary altar. When Father Anthony became a bishop, he inserted the name "Mary" into his own name.

As Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, Bishop Anthony gave away over 20,000 rosaries and mandated that the rosary be prayed in all the churches on Sundays and feast days. To make sure this practice was carried out, he often made surprise visits to parishes.

Bishop Anthony was an ardent promoter of the rosary. He was called the "St. Dominic" of the 19th century. On several occasions, Our Lady appeared to him and told him that he was to serve as the "St. Dominic" for the people of his time by zealously promoting the rosary.

Bishop Anthony initiated a vigorous reform of clergy and laity in Santiago. No fewer than 15 attempts were made on his life. During one assassination attempt, he was stabbed in the face. Bishop Anthony obtained a commutation of the assailant's death sentence to a term in prison.

After seven years in Cuba, Bishop Anthony was recalled to Spain to be the confessor of Queen Isabella II. With this light assignment he combined a vigorous apostolate of the press. He authored over 100 theological works and wrote at least 10 works on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1868, a revolution dethroned the queen and sent her with her family into exile. Bishop Anthony accompanied her to France. He continued his popular missions and distribution of books wherever he went in accompanying the Spanish Court.

Due to poor health, Bishop Anthony retired to a Cistercian abbey in southern France, where he died on Oct. 24, 1870, at age 62. When his relics were transferred in 1897, the heart of this ardent devotee of the Immaculate Heart was found incorrupt.

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十九世紀的「聖道明」  

1830年至1954年被視為「瑪利亞年」。期間,很多有聖德的人士熱心推廣敬禮聖母。其中一位是聖安多尼加烈(1807-1870)。

安多尼出生於西班牙的沙倫。年紀尚少的安多尼,父母送給他一串玫瑰唸珠,並在家中每天誦唸玫瑰經。後來他從父母處取得一本有關玫瑰經的書籍來閱讀,變成了熱心推廣玫瑰經的人,常偕同妹妹羅撒到富詩曼奕聖母聖堂誦唸玫瑰經,在本堂亦帶領眾人唸玫瑰經。

1829年安多尼進入修院,開始一生每天唸三串玫瑰經。1835年6月13日聖安多尼.帕道亞瞻禮,晉升鐸品。他曾到羅馬入耶穌會初學院,但因疾病,被迫返祖國,為同胞服務,講退省道理及傳道,經常強調對聖體和聖母的敬禮。安多尼神父既是一位出色的傳道人,所以,有時他會一天講道達十二次之多。

1839年在意大利,安多尼神父見到眾人對聖母無玷聖心盛大的敬禮,這經驗幫助加深他對無玷聖心的敬禮。他於1847年創辦了「聖母聖心總善會」,又在1849年創辦了「聖母無玷聖心傳教會(通稱加烈會士)」。傳統上,這傳教會會士均特別奉獻給聖母無玷聖心。安多尼神父深深明白到,無玷聖心是新諾厄方舟,亦是仁慈之座。

1850年的至聖玫瑰之后瞻禮日,安多尼神父晉牧為主教。晉牧前的數天,有人看到安多尼神父在至聖玫瑰祭台主持彌撒時,被天堂之光環繞著。晉牧後,他把自己的名字加上「瑪利亞」一名。

安多尼主教被委作古巴聖地牙哥總主教後,送出共兩萬串玫瑰唸珠,並規定牧區內所有聖堂,逢在主日及各瞻禮日,必定要公唸玫瑰經,而他常作意料不到的堂區探訪以確保玫瑰經在聖堂公唸。

由於他竭力推動誦唸玫瑰經,安多尼總主教被稱為「十九世紀的聖道明」;聖母亦曾幾次顯現給他,告訴他要藉著傳揚玫瑰經而成為當代的「聖道明」。

極力改革社會風俗,安多尼總主教惹來仇視,有十五次幾乎招來殺身之禍。一次一名兇徒刺傷他的臉,被判死刑,安多尼總主教親向法院求情,赦免行兇者的死刑而改為監禁。

七年過後,安多尼被召回國,任依撒伯爾皇后告解神師。這較清閑的任命,使得他能藉宗教刊物來作福傳。他編寫近百的神學刊物,並寫了至少十本有關童貞聖母著作。

1868年革命爆發,推翻皇后,並放逐她整家,安多尼主教跟隨到法國,在那裡繼續他的講道和箸作。

體弱令安多尼主教退隱到西斯德修院,公元1870年10月24日逝,終年62歲。1897年,人們把他的遺髑遷移時,發覺他畢生愛聖母無玷聖心的心,沒有腐朽。