Published on 20 September 2022

800 hundred years ago in Forlì St. Anthony’s adventure as preacher of the Gospel began in earnest!

It was in September of 1222 that St. Anthony was revealed as an extraordinary preacher of the Word of God.

Exactly eight centuries ago Anthony, a young friar who had arrived on the coasts of Sicily after an adventurous shipwreck, was living in a friary in Montepaolo, on the hills south of Forlì, where he had gone with other friars after meeting St. Francis of Assisi in May 1221.

St. Anthony lived in the friary of Montepaolo for over a year between 1221 and 1222 and, according to tradition, around 24 September 1222 gave his first public sermon near Forlì. Priestly ordinations had been organized for that day, but the main preacher was unable to attend, and so the man’s superior asked Anthony to take his place. From Anthony’s lips emerged a deep knowledge of Scripture, as well as simplicity and an effective use of language which spoke directly to the hearts of those present.

From that moment on Anthony was sent throughout northern Italy and the south of France to challenge, through his preaching, peoples and regions that were often misled by the thriving heretical movements of his times, while at the same time rebuking some high ranking members of the Church for their moral decadence.



Photo credit: St. Anthony preaching at Forlì, detail of an icon by Andrea Trebbi (1999) at the ‘Messenger of Saint Anthony’ headquarters. Photo by Giorgio Deganello – MSA Archives