Sant’Antonio Maria Zaccaria

(from – Antonio Maria Zaccaria, was born in Cremona to an old Cremonese family at the end of 1502. Very young, he became fatherless and grew up with his mother Antonietta.
We know little of his childhood, however his first studies of philosophy and medicine were held in the city of Padua. He became a great man of science and doctor. When he returned to his family he had obtained his doctoral degree.
He approached the study of theology after realizing that it was not enough just to cure bodies but also souls. He used to visit the sick, he taught catechism, inviting young people to approach Christian life.
He soon became a priest. It is said that in his first mass the people saw his head surrounded by a bright halo. Many wanted to approach him for advice. Even the devoted countess Lodovica Torelli, noble lady of Guastalla, he wanted him as his particular chaplain.
However his stay with the countess did not last long and after a few months Antonio went to Milan. In the Lombard city he found a great corruption among the people and thought of working to try to stem it.
Approaching Giacomo Moriggia and Bartolomeo Ferrari, the three decided to found the congregation of the regular clerics called San Paolo. This in favor of the great devotion that Antonio felt for the Apostle who had been struck on the road to Damascus. Regular clerics are better known as Barnabites, from the Milanese church of Barnaba.
The foundation of the new religious order was approved by Pope Clement VII. The order quickly spread to other regions, giving the church of Rome many saints. Antonio together with the Countess Lodovica Torelli, founded the congregation of religious called Angeliche di San Paolo, an all-female institution, of which the countess was the benefactor.
Congregation members used to wander the streets and squares of the city. When they found a large group of people, they stood on an improvised pulpit to preach against the depravity of customs and exhort penance. Thus many conversions succeeded.
He was responsible for the reform of some monasteries in Vicenza. In 1539 while he was in Guastalla he fell ill and presaging his imminent death he was taken to his mother's house in Cremona. He would have preferred to die in Milan among his religious but his health conditions did not allow a further arduous journey.
He died on 5 July at the age of 36 years, after living an exemplary life for Christian charity. Among its many merits we also mention the spread of the practice of the Santissime Quarantore, which consists in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for forty hours.

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