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Saint Anthony Zaccaria

Saint Zaccaria was one of the early leaders of the Counter Reformation, founder of the Barnabites, and strong promotor of the devotion to the Passion of Christ, the Eucharist and the renewal of religious life among the laity.

Saint Zaccaria was born in 1502 in Cremona, then part of the Duchy of Milan, now modern day Italy. He was baptized the day he was born in the Cathedral of Cremona by his uncle, Don Tommaso Zaccaria, canon of the Cathedral. Tragedy struck Saint Zaccaria when he was only two - his father suddenly died. He attended the Episcopal School attached the to the cathedral before studying philosophy at the University of Pavia and medicine at the University of Padua, graduating in 1524. For the next three years of his life he worked as a local physician but began studying for the priesthood in 1527 when he found himself unsatisfied with living a non-religious life. His ordination came in February of 1529.

For the next several years he worked in hospitals and institutions for the poor, served as spiritual advisor to Countess Ludovica Torelli of Guastalla, and finally became a member of the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom in 1530 when he followed the Countess to Milan. In Milan he formed the basis of three religious orders - the Clerics Regular of Saint Paul (Barnabites), a female branch of uncloistered nuns (the Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul) and a lay congregation for the laity (Married of Saint Paul or Oblates of Saint Paul).

The Barnabites (officially the Congregation of the Regular Clerks of Saint Paul) was officially sanctioned in 1533 by Pope Clement VII and set their devotions on the teachings of Saint Paul of Tarsus and a strong emphasis in particular on love for the Eucharist and Christ crucified.

In 1539, while serving on a mission to Guestalla, Saint Zaccaria came down with fever. He succumbed to the illness on July 5th, 1539 at the young age of only 36. He was buried in the convent of the Angelics of Saint Paul in Milan. After his death many miraculous cures were attributed to his intercession and when his body was was inspected 27 years after his death it was found to be totally incorrupt. Today his remains are enshrined in the Church of Saint Barnabas in Milan, Italy. Officially, Saint Zaccaria was canonized on may 27th, 1897 by Pope Leo XIII with a feast day celebrated on July 5th. He is considered the patron saint of physicians and is often depicted wearing the black cassock of his order and holding a lily, cross or Host.

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