Born in 1807, it seems that St. Anthony Mary Claret was destined for greatness even from a young age. Even as a very young child, Tonin (as he was called by his family) grappled with the concepts of eternity and eternal damnation for the lost. It caused him anxiety and nights of lost sleep when he was only 5. As he grew, he wondered how it could be that so many were lost when simple catechism could prevent it.
Prone to the miraculous
Still a young man, he was swept into the deep water one day while he was trying to cope with an extremely hot summer (1826) by wading in the sea. Helpless and unable to swim, he somehow kept afloat on the water’s surface. Upon calling on the Blessed Virgin, he found himself back ashore as quickly as he had been swept away.
More than once, Fr Claret received angelic help with his work. Here is one such story:
On another occasion the saint had recently arrived at Olost. After saying morning Mass, he was headed for the confessional at 6:45 when he unexpectedly announced, “I’m off for Vich!” and disappeared through the door. The roads at the time being buried under several feet of snow, his startled host immediately sent an assistant with a horse after the preacher to help him on his way. But after riding three miles the assistant returned, unable to find Mosen Claret or even his tracks in the snow! Eight witnesses testified that at 7: 15 — a half hour later — Saint Anthony arrived at Vich, some thirty miles distant, just as a messenger was leaving to bring the preacher word that his dear friend, Father Fortunato Bres, had only moments earlier suffered a bad accident! http://catholicism.org/anthony-claret.html
It wasn’t the only time Fr Claret traveled over snow without leaving a trail and once he was observed to have an angel at his side to help transport him.
Another miracle of St. Anthony’s travel was very different.
A pastor in Olot, discovering this problem and yet urgently needing the saint’s apostolic results, went to a Carmelite nun reputed for her holiness and asked that she pray for the speedy delivery of Mosen Claret to the parish. A short time later, the famed missioner appeared at the pastor’s door and announced, “A miracle of the Virgin of Carmel has brought me to you,” confirming that the prayers of the pious Carmelite to Our Lady had been answered. http://catholicism.org/anthony-claret.html
Despite his extreme busyness, Fr Claret remained in Olot for a month working extremely long days in order to serve the needs of the congregation. He preached lengthy, 3-hour sermons to a packed congregation who required 25 confessors and three priests just to serve the Eucharist. These days, we would call this “revival” – this one was called the “great mission of Olot”
Success Breeds Opposition
The Adversary frequently attacked this effective apostle. Storms would be wreaked, freak tempests would extinguish the lanterns. A large stone was suddenly removed from the main arch in a church as he was preaching – causing a huge collapse – but not a single person was touched. He wrote:
“The demons,” Claret wrote, “. . . persecuted me terribly.” Once, as he was traveling, they sent a boulder hurtling down on the apostle, narrowly missing him. “Sometimes [Satan] would afflict me with terrible maladies. But oddly enough, as soon as I realized that the malady was the work of the enemy, I was totally cured without medical aid.” http://catholicism.org/anthony-claret.html
One of these “terrible maladies” included a gaping wound exposing his ribs, but Our Lady healed him instantly.
“If hell’s persecution was great,” Saint Anthony added, “heaven’s protection was greater. I experienced the visible protection of the Blessed Virgin and of the angels and saints, who guided me through unknown paths, freed me from thieves and murderers, and brought me to a place of safety without my ever knowing how. Many times the word was sent out that I had been murdered, and good souls were already having Masses said for me.” http://catholicism.org/anthony-claret.html
Shortly before being sent to Cuba, Claret was busy founding the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (known as the Claretians) to help him continue and increase his tireless mission to save souls.
As I’ve already talked about his works in Cuba, this seems to be a good place to leave St. Anthony Mary Claret for today. Another post will be required to touch on the many other miracles and prophecies he was known for.