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St Anthony Mary Claret

Anthony John Adjutor Claret y Clara was born in Sallent (Barcelona) on December 23, 1807, in a family of a textile manufacturer. He is the fifth of eleven children. He was sent to Barcelona to study in view of their business. Despite some offers to set up his own factory, he refuses to satisfy his father’s wishes and he decides to give everything up to become a Carthusian. But he ended up entering the seminary of Vic and ordained as a Diocesan priest. Although he had not completed his theological studies, on June 13, 1835, he was ordained a priest because his bishop, Paul of Jesus Corcuera, saw something extraordinary in his personality. He went to Rome to offer his services directly to Propaganda Fide, then in charge of the task of evangelization in the whole world. While in Rome, he entered the Society of Jesus as a novice but after four months he was asked to leave and go back to Spain.

After going back to Catalonia, he dedicated himself to popular missions. For the sake of communion with the hierarchy and the pastoral faculties involved, he asks Propaganda Fide for the title of “Apostolic Missionary” which he fills with spiritual and apostolic content. He walks across much of Catalonia between 1843 and 1848, preaching the Word of God, always on foot, not collecting money or gifts for his ministry. It moves him to imitate Jesus Christ and the apostles. In 1848 he founds the Religious Library, a publishing house which in its first eighteen years launches 2,811,100 copies of books, 2,509,500 of small books and 4,249,200 leaflets. He founded the Confraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and wrote the book “Daughters of the Blessed and Immaculate Heart of Mary”, which eventually inspired the foundation of the secular institute of Cordimarian Filiation. He was sent to the Canary Islands and was called “el Padrito”. He became so popular that he is co-patron of the diocese of Las Palmas along with the Virgen del Pino.

"Thoroughly convinced that to be a good missionary it is both useful and essential to have love, I have searched for this hidden treasure and would sell everything in order to find it..."

A.M. Claret

He founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on July 16, 1849, and a few days later he was appointed Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and consecrated bishop on October 6, 1850, at the Cathedral of Vic. He was a missionary bishop. In six years, he visited his vast diocese three times. He feels concerned about the spiritual and pastoral renewal of the clergy and the founding of religious communities. Along with Antonia Maria Paris he founded the Religious of Mary Immaculate Claretian Missionary Sisters. He fought against slavery, created a farm school for poor children, set up a savings bank with a marked social character, founded Popular libraries, wrote two books on agriculture, etc.

Queen Isabel II personally chooses him as her Confessor in 1857 and therefore he must move to Madrid. In 1859 the Queen appointed him Protector of the church and hospital of Montserrat, Madrid, and Chairman of the monastery of El Escorial. His union with Jesus Christ reaches a peak in the grace of the sacramental species conservation, granted in La Granja (Segovia) on August 26,1861. Following the revolution of September 1868, he goes with the Queen into exile. In April 1869, he left the royal court and attended the Vatican Council I where he intervenes passionately in favor of papal infallibility.

Going back in France, due to the continuous persecutions, he was forced to flee as a criminal and take refuge in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide, near Narbonne. In this hidden monastery, surrounded by the love of the monks and some of his missionaries he dies, at 62 years and 10 months of age, on October 24, 1870.

His remains were moved to Vic in 1897. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI on February 25, 1934 and canonized by Pius XII on May 7, 1950.

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