Saint Anthony Mary Claret
Bishop and founder of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Born: December 23, 1807 Sallent, Barcelona, Spain
Died: October 24, 1870 (aged 62) Fontfroide, Narbonne, France
Venerated in: Roman Catholic Church
Beatified: February 25, 1934, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Canonized: May 7, 1950, Rome by Pope Pius XII
Major shrine: Vic, Barcelona, Spain
Feast: October 24
Attributes: Bishop’s robe, crozier, an open book, catechism, 2 students beside him at his side and having his bent arm pointing to the sky
Patronage: Textile merchants, weavers, savings (taught the poor the importance of savings), Catholic press, Claretians, Dioceses of the Canary Islands, Claretian students, Claretian educators and Claretian educational institutions, technical and vocational educators
Saint Anthony Mary Claret, C.M.F. (Catalan: Antoni Maria Claret i Clarà; Spanish: Antonio María Claret y Clarà; was born in Sallent, in the county of Bages in the Province of Barcelona Spain, on December 23, 1807, the fifth of the eleven children of Juan and Josefa Claret. His father was a woollen manufacturer. As a child he enjoyed pilgrimages to the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of Fusimanya.
Claret became a weaver at the age of twelve after he received an elementary education in his native village. He went to Barcelona to specialize in his trade, At the age of eighteen, and remained there until he was 20 years old. He spent his spare time studing and became proficient in Latin, French and engraving.
St. Antony left Barcelona after Recognizing a call to religious life. He wished to become a Carthusian monk but finally entered the diocesan seminary at Vic in 1829, and was ordained on June 13, 1835, on the feast of St. Anthony of Padua. He received a benefice in his native parish, where he continued to study theology until 1839; but as missionary work strongly appealed to him, he proceeded to Rome.
There he entered the Jesuit novitiate but had to leave due to ill health. He then returned to Spain and exercised his pastoral ministry in Viladrau and Girona, attracting notice by his efforts on behalf of the poor. In an area despoiled by the Carlist civil war, he added the practice of rustic medicine to his other endeavors.
Recalled by his superiors to Vic, Claret was sent as Apostolic Missionary throughout Catalonia which had suffered from French invasions. He travelled from one mission to the next on foot. An eloquent preacher fluent in the Catalan language, people came from miles around to hear. After a lengthy time in the pulpit, he would spend long hours in the confessional. He was said to have had the gift of discernment of consciences. In 1848 Claret’s life was threatened by anti-clerical enemies and he was sent to the Canary Islands where he gave retreats for 15 months. His missions were so well attended that he often preached from an improvised pulpit in the plaza.
On his return to Spain, In 1849 Anthony gathered together five priests who formed the basis of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (The Claretians), on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16, 1849), and founded the great religious library at Barcelona which was called “Librería Religiosa” (now “Llibreria Claret”). Pope Pius IX gave approval to the congregation on December 22, 1865.
He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen (Isabella II). He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children, and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony.
In 1869 he went to Rome to prepare for the First Vatican Council. Owing to failing health he withdrew to Prada de Conflent in the French Pyrenees, where he was still harassed by his Spanish enemies.
He followed Isabella II into exile and at the insistence of the Spanish ambassador, was placed under house arrest in the Cistercian monastery at FontFroide, Narbonne, southern France, where he died on October 24, 1870, aged 62. His remains were buried in the Catalan city of Vic, in the Country of Osona.
~St. Anthony Mary Claret, Pray For Us!