At the same time that Martin Luther was was starting his schismatic protests, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Saint Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate.

He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people.

Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance.

He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays.

His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated.

While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.

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  1. Dear St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria,

    You lived in a time of great turmoil within and without the church. You were a preacher with great power, as you struggled within the church. Please pray for the world at this time of the coronavirus. 11 million have died already, with so many others struggling to fight off this disease. Please ask the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to answer the prayers of those of us who believe in Them. Please help us. Amen.

  2. Blessed St. Anthony Zaccaria, please pray for the pilgrimage of peace in Ocosingo and other Indigenous communities in the area. I ask your kind regard and intercession for the Peace of the Kingdom to come to Ocosingo, to Chiapas, to Mexico, and to the World. Please gather under your holy zeal the most vulnerable people in the planet and take care of them through your heavenly apostolate. Thank you. Amen.


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