When I came to the Magnificat Antiphon at Vespers this evening, I made the delightful discovery of the text (with a splendid First Mode melody) now given for the feast of Saint Anthony in the 2007 Antiphonale Monasticum:
Exi cito in plateas et vicos civitatis,
et pauperes ac debiles, caecos et claudos compelle intrare,
ut impleatur domus mea, alleluia.
Quick, go out into the broadways and lanes of the city:
bring in the poor, the cripples, the blind and the lame,
that so my house may be filled.
(Luke 14: 21, 23)
The old Matins legend for Saint Anthony had this:
Anthony, the Ark of the Covenant
It is said that he knew all the Bible by heart; and the Pope, after hearing him preach, declared that in Anthony all the Scriptures were enshrined, as they were of old in the Ark of the Covenant.
So truly did he love holiness and truth that he was a relentless preacher against both vice and heresy, wherefrom he was nicknamed Everlasting-Hammer-of-the-Hereticks. All work ceased when he came to a town; and because the churches could not hold the crowds which flocked to him, he preached in the marketplaces; whereafter hereticks as well as Catholics thronged to him to be shriven.
Death in a Treehouse
When he was sick unto death, he is said to have asked that a floor be put up in a tree, whereon he could lie, in the open air, and wait for death amidst the singing of the birds.
I especially like the bit about the treehouse. When I was a lad, my father built me a treehouse in a Catalpa tree in the backyard. It was very special to me: my quiet place. I loved climbing into the treehouse, closing the door, and sitting there, among the branches, with my open Bible. I also have a very distinct memory of praying to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the treehouse!