Blessed Anthony Patrizi, priest

The contemplative dimension of the Augustinian Order derived much from the eremitical groups that came together in Tuscany in 1244 and then in the Grand Union of 1256. This tradition would be maintained primarily by the female branch of the Order as well as by particular individuals and communities that felt called to this vocation. In the 14th century the Observant movement and later the Discalced and Recollect reforms of the 16th and 17th centuries emphasised this side of the Augustinian vocation and way of life.

The Tuscan Hermits of St Augustine and in particular the hermitage of Lecceto near Siena played an important part in the origins of the Observant movement within the Order. In 1387 Lecceto became the first house of the Order to embrace the Observant movement with its insistence on strict observance of Rule and Constitutions and its renewed emphasis on the contemplative dimension of the Order’s spirituality. In this tradition Blessed Anthony Patrizi occupies a prominent place.

Anthony was born in Siena, reputedly of a leading family in the city, at an unknown date in the thirteenth century. He spent most of his life at Lecceto.

An anonymous account of his saintly life dating from the early 14th century speaks of the reverence in which he was held and dwells particularly on the circumstances of his death about 1311. Anthony was on his way to visit a friar friend when he stopped for the night at the Augustinian monastery of Monticiano. Extraordinary signs were seen around the monastery, with a great light stretching upwards to the heavens, and neighbours of the monastery were miraculously cured of grave illness. It was discovered that the visiting friar had expired during the night and gone to heaven.

The body of friar Anthony was preserved at Monticiano and his cult developed with the fame of miracles and was confirmed by Rome in 1804. Most important to us today may be that link with the outstanding sanctity of the hermit friars of the earliest days of the Augustinian Order that can refocus our attention on the contemplative dimension of the Augustinian vocation.