Saint Anthony Mary Claret was born near Barcelona, Spain on December 23, 1807. His family was not overly wealthy and, at the age of 12, Anthony was apprenticed to a weaver. He continued with this trade for 10 years until he decided that his true vocation was to the religious life.
He considered becoming a Carthusian but quickly realized that he was not suited, either spiritually or physically, for this kind of life. Anthony was ordained in Spain on June 13, 1835. He continued to study theology until 1839 when he went to Rome in the hopes of joining a Jesuit novitiate there. His health, however, deteriorated terribly and the Jesuit superior advised him to return to Spain. For nine years, Anthony evangelized the Kingdom of Catalonia. In 1848, he was sent to the Canary Islands where he remained for a little more than a year.
On July 16, 1849, Anthony Claret founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the order of the Charetians. This order’s apostolate is to spread the flames of love which the Immaculate Heart of Mary enkindles.
While Anthony was in Spain, he also became the confessor of Isabella II (1830-1904), Queen Regnant of Spain. It was the Queen who, in 1849, suggested to Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792-1878) that Anthony become the Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba. He arrived in Cuba during early 1850 and was met by a huge mess. The Church was in terrible need of reform and the country’s political leaders were quite anti-religious. Anthony was almost assassinated 15 times during his seven years in Cuba. He was seriously wounded during one attempt that was perpetrated by a man who was upset because his mistress had been converted by the Archbishop.
Anthony returned to Spain during February of 1857. He remained close to Queen Isabella and, with her help, continued to evangelize his native land. It is estimated that Saint Anthony Mary Claret published at least 200 religious books and pamphlets. When Isabella was deposed by the Spanish Revolution of 1868, Anthony went into exile with her.
He planned to attend the First Vatican Council (1868), but his health became so bad that he was, at last, forced to retire. He disappeared into a Cistercian monastery in southern France where he died on October 24, 1870.
Saint Anthony Mary Claret is considered the patron saint of weavers and of the Catholic press. His feast day is October 24.
Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints