1222 - 1227 Preacher in Italy and in France

Things rarely work out the way we have planned them, for God’s ways are not our ways. In only a short time, Anthony had travelled from Coimbra in Portugal to the shores of Morocco, then to Sicily, then to Assisi, and finally to a small hermitage in Montepaolo.

There, at last, Anthony found the peace which he had sought for so long. He immersed himself in his priestly service to the community as well as in the household tasks of cooking and cleaning.

But the Lord had other plans for him. One day he was asked to attend the celebration of an ordination to the priesthood in the city of Forlì. The preacher failed to arrive, and Graziano, Anthony’s provincial, ordered him to preach whatever might come to mind. All were astounded when Anthony preached with both great learning and fervour. His peaceful period of retreat in the hermitage had come to an end, for henceforth he would be called upon to preach near and far.

Anthony travelled throughout Northern Italy and Southern France, preaching especially in the areas that had been plagued by heresy. He combated both abuses in the Church (e.g. political intrigues, moral decadence which had caused many to lose their faith, as well as the heretical positions (e.g. rejection of creation as evil, rejection of Church authority and the sacraments) which confused the faithful. His most powerful weapon against these enemies was his Gospel lifestyle, for by living what he preached he was able to confound heretics and edify Catholics.