1195 First years in Lisbon

It is difficult to write a biography of St. Anthony of Padua because we have so few details about large portions of his life, especially about his youth. Much of the information that we do have is derived from pious legends which have relatively little historic value. These legends were often variations of set patterns which could then be applied to any saint (e.g. many saints are seen preaching to animals, including both St. Francis and St. Anthony). Thus, one must be careful in claiming that one or another of the details of the life of a saint is historic. Nevertheless, certain details about the life of St. Anthony can be verified, and the following short biography is based upon those elements.

St. Anthony, whose baptismal name was Ferdinand, was born in Lisbon in 1195, the eldest son of an influential family. His parents had great plans for him, and so they arranged for a sound education. They were thinking of an ecclesiastical or bureaucratic career, but Ferdinand disappointed them by choosing a life more directly dedicated to the service of the Lord. He was known for his piety and fervour in prayer. In fact, one of the earliest legends concerning him, is of how he was disturbed by a demon while he was praying, and how he chased that demon away by making a sign of the cross upon the floor.