The well-liked Spanish priest Anthony Claret was the fifth of eleven children. His family was poor but hard working. Weaving was a family trade. Anthony’s earliest memories of home were the family’s praying the rosary and going to church. From this environment grew his deep love and devotion to Jesus and Mary.
By age twenty-one Anthony had been educated and was in much demand for his skill as a weaver. While suffering because of poor health, Anthony imagined himself as a Carthusian monk. He went to the bishop for advice. The bishop suggested that he first go to the diocesan seminary and then, if he wished, leave and become a monk. Anthony followed this advice and enjoyed seminary life.
Anthony was assigned as archbishop of Cuba. Not having had an archbishop for fourteen years, the island was in need of renewal. Anthony reorganized the seminary training, preached in all the churches, heard confessions, and guided people to Christ. He worked for updated farm methods and credit unions. He wanted the people to own their own farms, knowing that this would improve family life. He made enemies by teaching black slaves. Fifteen times people tried to assassinate him.
After eight years, Anthony was called to Spain to be Queen Isabella II’s confessor. He obeyed unhappily. He and the queen agreed that he would not live at the palace but come only to hear her confession and instruct her children. This freed him to open a religious publishing house and write more than two hundred books and pamphlets.
In 1886 a revolution took place, and those associated with the court fled to Rome where Vatican Council I was in session. There he defended the infallibility of the pope. Then he returned to a Cistercian monastery in France where he stayed in solitude until his death.
Image credit: Painting of Saint Antoni Maria Claret by unknown artist, ?. Public Domain via Wikimedia.