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Anthony della Chiesa

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Anthony della Chiesa

Blessed Anthony della Chiesa (1394–1459) was a Dominican superior and companion of St. Bernardino of Siena. Anthony was born in 1394, the son of the Marquis della Chiesa, in San Germano, Italy. At the age of twenty, despite his family's objections, Anthony became a Dominican, gaining recognition as a preacher and confessor.

He accompanied St. Bernardine on missions and served in various capacities in the Dominican monasteries. Anthony was also one of the leaders opposing the last of the antipopes, Felix V.

He is also the ancestor of Giacomo Della Chiesa, the future Pope Benedict XV who would reign from 1914 to 1922.

Miraculous Powers

While journeying from Savona to Genoa, Italy, Anthony was captured by pirates but was released unharmed. He was a known miracle worker with an ability to read the consciences of men and women. His feast day is July 28. 1459 Bl. Anthony della Chiesa Dominican superior companion of St. Bernardino of Siena; one of the leaders opposing the last of the antipopes, Felix V; known miracle worker with an ability to read the consciences of men and women; he conversed with Saint Mary, in ecstasy, several times.

Family Background

Anthony was born in 1394, the son of the Marquis della Chiesa, in San Germano, Italy. At twenty, despite his family's objections, Anthony became a Dominican, gaining recognition as a preacher and confessor. He accompanied St. Bernardine on missions and served in various capacities in the Dominican monasteries. Anthony was also one of the leaders opposing the last of the antipopes, Felix V While journeying from Savona to Genoa, Italy, Anthony was captured by pirates but was released unharmed. He was a known miracle worker with an ability to read the consciences of men and women.

Blessed Antony della Chiesa, OP (AC) Born in San Germano, near Vercelli, the Piedmont, Italy, in 1395; died Como, Italy, January 22, 1459; beatified 1819. Antony was born into the nobility, the family of the Marquis della Chiesa, and a collateral ancestor of Pope Benedict XV. He was well educated. Showing a taste early in life for he things of God, he grew up with the hope of becoming a religious. His father, who was a man of some importance, opposed this wish. Not until Antony was 22 was he able to make the break with his family and enter the monastery at Vercelli.

Here he distinguished himself for both sanctity and learning. Being a good preacher, he was for some years the companion of Saint Bernardine of Siena, in his missionary journeys through Italy. Antony was prior at the friaries of Como, Savona, Florence, and Bologna. Antony gives us a picture of one who followed the Dominican life perfectly, managing, most of the time, to escape public notice. There is in his life very little of the glamorous or the unusual. He kept the rule, was a good superior, and a just administrator. Shunning applause, he was always serene.

The legends mention that he was particularly devoted to Our Lady, which is something one takes for granted in a Dominican, and that he conversed with her, in ecstasy, several times. He had the gift of reading hearts and was a sought-after director of souls. He also healed many sick people with his blessing. However, if any miracles are ordinary ones, these may be so described; they could be given as typical of most of early Dominicans. At one time, Antony was on a ship that was captured by pirates, but at his prayer, the pirates spared the passengers and brought them safely to land.

One of the very few things of unusual nature that in Antony's life is a legend told of him when he was prior of Savona. It makes a lovely ghost story, and it also provides food for thought. According to the story, Antony was praying one night in the church. Disturbed by the sound of horses hooves clattering on the flagstones outside, he went to see who could possibly be there at such a late hour. There were several horsemen, all mounted on black horses. He addressed them, but received no answer. Thinking that they might be foreigners, he tried several languages, and still there was no response .

Aware, then, that something was wrong, he commanded them in the name of the Lord to tell him who they were and where they were going. They said that they were devils, and that they were on their way to meet the soul of a dying sinner, a usurer, and escort him to hell. "I will pray for him," said Antony. The demons laughed and told him he was too late. "Then at least come back and tell me whether you succeed or not," said the prior. A short while later, the group returned, and they had succeeded. They held the unhappy usurer captive, and, while the prior watched in horror, they bore him off. The man was screaming. The next day, the usurer's relatives came to arrange an elaborate funeral. "You would do much better to have Masses said for yourselves and other poor sinners," he said. Antony died at Como and was buried there in the Dominican church Miracles at his tomb led to his beatification (Benedictines, Dorcy).

1459 Bl. Anthony della Chiesa Dominican born 1395 at San Germano, near Vercelli, of the noble family of della Chiesa di Roddi, which was afterwards to give to the Church Pope Benedict XV (Giacomo della Chiesa). His religious vocation was opposed by his parents, and he was already twenty-two when he took the habit of the Friars Preachers at Vercelli. He was a very successful preacher and director of souls, and for some years accompanied the Franciscan St Bernardino of Siena on his missions. While prior at Como he completely reformed the life and morals of that town, and was sent successively to govern The friaries at Savona, Florence and Bologna, where he insisted on a rigorous observance of their rule. Each time he relinquished office with joy and had soon to take it again, saying sadly that he who could not even manage an oar was entrusted with the tiller. From 1440 to 1449 the Church was troubled by an antipope, Amadeus of Savoy, calling himself Felix V, who had a large following in Savoy and Switzerland. Bd Antony stoutly opposed himself to this man and succeeded in winning over a number of his adherents to lawful authority. He also preached with great energy against usury, using as a terrible warning the story of a usurer who at his death had lost not only his soul but even his body, which had been carried off by a troop of diabolic horsemen, so that his relatives had to bury an empty coffin. Stories of this sort, some entertaining, some touching, some to our ideas merely silly, were part of the stock-in-trade of every medieval preacher. While going by sea from Savona to Genoa with a fellow friar, the ship in which they were was captured by corsairs ; they had no reason to look for anything but death or slavery, but the pirates were so impressed by the demeanour of the two religious that they set them free without ransom. Bd Antony received the gift of miracles and of discernment of spirits, and predicted the day of his own death, which was at Como on January 28, 1459. His cultus was approved in 1819, his feast being kept on July 28, the date of the translation of his relics to his birthplace in 1810.

An account of Bd Antony is furnished in Procter, Lives of the Dominican Saints, pp. 210–213. See further V. Pellazza, Elogio storico del B. Antonio (1863) Taurisano, Catalogus Hagiographicus O.P., p. 40; and L. Ferretti, Vita del B. Antonio (1919).

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