The Miracles of St. Anthony Zaccaria
During his lifetime, Anthony Mary is not known to have worked many miracles. But that gift of working miracles which he had not on earth, God granted him and in a very high degree after his death. Very numerous are the prodigies worked through his intercession. In olden times, clear testimony of this is given by many writers. Giuseppe Bresciani in his Crown of Cremonese Saints, speaking of Zaccaria, says expressly, "that after his death the Lord worked many miracles and favors." Agostino Barbosa, the celebrated jurisconsult, in his work on Ecclesiastical Rights (1628), writes of Zaccaria, "that as he was holy in life, so he was illustrious after death by the glory of his miracles." And the same is confirmed by other writers among whom may be mentioned Angelica Gonzaga.
Of the miracles worked in the past, we shall mention only the one with interesting value connected with the miraculous picture that is preserved and placed for veneration over the altar where the body of the Saint lays.
Father Faustino Premoli, rector of the Barnabite College in Crema, on the evening of the 15th of July 1747, kneeling before a picture of Anthony Mary, prayed fervently that God would vouchsafe to render the Saint illustrious by some new and striking miracle in order that the Barnabites might be enabled to solicit the process of his Beatification. The next day some devout persons were praying as usual before the picture when behold they saw it surrounded by a bright light and the Servant of God, letting the lily (which before was upright) fall down on his left arm, raised his right hand from his breast and blessed them as a priest does at the altar. While this happened, Father Premoli, who was facing the people (for he was giving them the blessing with the relic of the Saint), seeing in them a certain awe and wonder, asked what had happened, but no one dared to speak. The apparition over which they exclaimed: "Oh! What a miracle, what a wonderful miracle we have seen!" happened. Those who were present related what had occurred. A standing proof remained in the picture itself; neither the left hand of the saint nor the lily took their former position. This was verified not only by Father Premoli, but also by many persons who remembered how the picture had first been painted; among these was the painter Tommaso Picenardi who had taken some copies of it.
In this century, we can say without fear of making mistake that the graces received through the intercession of the Saint can be counted by hundreds, but space will only permit us to give only the three miracles that served for the canonization of St. Anthony Mary, and a few other miraculous incidents that happened in later dates.
The First Miracle
The Second Miracle
Much more striking is the following cure which took place in Cremona on the 21st of May 1873. Paola Aloni, 42 years of age, was suffering from an incurable organic spinal deformity which had obliged her to stay in bed for seven years. Her sufferings increased to such an extent as to allow her no rest, night or day. For four months, she had been unable to take any nourishment except a little broth. On the 15th of May 1873 the Last Sacraments were administered to her, but she continued to recommend herself to St. Anthony Mary, to whom she had, for six months, been making novena after novena, being convinced of the cure the Saint would grant her. "I have never been as ill as I am now," she said to her confessor, "and this shows the favor is about to be granted. 'You will see a great miracle.'" As a matter of fact, the miracle was not delayed. On the morning of May 21, she felt an irresistible power urging her to rise from bed. Fearing that she would not be able to stand on account of her physical weariness, she asked to be touched with the relic of the Saint, and wonderful to relate, in a moment she regained her strength, and without help, she rose from bed. Her malady disappeared—she was perfectly cured! All day people came to see her, desirous of seeing for themselves the great miracle that had happened.
The Third Miracle
The third miracle happened to a blacksmith named Francesco Aloni, a brother of the person whose cure we have just related above. Francesco Aloni, 52 years of age, had suffered for three years from ulcers and sores in his leg caused by varicose veins. The corruption that issued from these sores was frightful, and the sufferings of the poor man daily increased. In the summer of 1876, his state became so serious that he was forced to stay in bed. He was brought to two different hospitals, staying there for several months. Then he was dismissed, his case having been pronounced chronic and incurable. The poor man left the hospital crawling, rather than walking, and unable to get home, he dragged himself to his sister's house which was near. Seeing him in such a sad state, her sister, Paola, said to him, as if inspired from on high: "Francesco, have you never recommended yourself to the Blessed Zaccaria?" To this he never answered but burst into tears. The sister too wept, but full of confidence, she touched his leg with the relic of the Saint, saying: "Through the intercession of Blessed Zaccaria may God restore you!" For a while both remained silent, then Paola added, "Francesco, promise me to make a novena to the Saint." The brother promised and left the house in better spirits. Francesco and Paola prayed fervently for the nine days. On the ninth day, the 23rd of October 1876, the leg was straightened. What a moment that was! The leg was perfectly healed! Francesco ran to his sister's house anxious to relate the miracle. "My Paola”, he cried, “I am cured! Tomorrow I will return to work". So he did. So complete was his cure that from that day on he had enjoyed perfect health.
Other Miraculous Signs of the Saint
A young Italian lady, Eliza Greco, was in great trouble, seeing no prospect of the obstacles to her marriage being removed. She was engaged to an officer, who on account of his financial circumstances and also his health, found it utterly impossible to carry out his wishes. To make matters worse, there was no prospect of his being ordered to the African Colonies. He wished to retire from the army, but this did not lessen the difficulties, for there were drawbacks also to his getting other appointments as those to whom he applied seemed to think it strange that he should wish to change his profession. In the meantime, the lady to whom he was engaged, being in the habit of attending church at the Barnabites, and having heard in a sermon of the many and wonderful favors obtained through the intercession of St. Anthony Mary, made some special promises to the Saint and began a novena in his honor. Her faith was very soon rewarded, for contrary to all expectations, the officer obtained a splendid appointment that put an end to all their difficulties. On the 3rd of May 1899, they hung near the tomb of St. Anthony Mary a silver heart that might serve as a lasting token of their loving gratitude to their heavenly Benefactor.
A young girl named Adalgisa Comelli, who worked as mistress in the Istituto Girelli at Marone, on the Lago d'Iseo, was attacked by a disease beginning in a sore behind the right ear. This remained a deep and open wound till at last the bone became diseased.
Every remedy was tried and several specialists consulted, but nothing could be done. Year after year, things grew worse. At last, towards the end of October 1898, it was decided that an operation must be performed and a part of the skull removed. The poor girl worn out from pain, and frightened at the thought of the terrible operation, asked to have it postponed for nine days. By the advice of the Directress of the Institute, she turned with all her heart to St. Anthony Mary. Using no further remedies, but consecrating these nine days to the Saint, she begged his help, recommending all of herself to him. She also received from the Directress a relic of the Saint to put under her pillow.
What was her joy to find, on the morning of the ninth day, that she had not only slept all night and no longer felt any pain, but that she was perfectly cured. The wound was healed, and there was no longer any trace or mark of the disease that had caused her such frightful sufferings for eight years. She at once had a Mass said in thanksgiving to St.Anthony Mary.
Gustavo Mortara of Canneto sull'Oglio had, for fourteen months, been suffering from complication of diseases. His whole body was one immense sore, and gangrene had already set in. He was given up by the doctors and awaited death. In God he could not hope, for he hardly knew that a God existed. His wife, who was a fervent catholic, used every means in her power to get him to go with her to visit the altar of St. Anthony Mary. She used every persuasion, and with the help of others, at last induced him to go with her to the church. Entering, he asked what altar that might be where he saw so many votive offerings. She told him it was the altar of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria who worked such wonderful miracles and cured so many who invoked him. "Oh" he said with a sneer, "that means to say I suppose that I, too, shall be cured." His wife, always sweet and gentle to him explained that to be cured, one must pray. After great persuasion, she made him promise to join her in saying an Our Father, Hail, Mary and a Glory Be for nine days in honor of St. Anthony Mary. She stayed by his bedside, night and day, which required more than human strength and courage, for the exhalations from the sores which covered his body made it almost impossible to approach him. She prayed without ceasing and got others to pray for him. The sick man, however, kept his word faithfully and read (for he did not know a prayer) the Our Father, Hail, Mary and the Glory Be every day. On the morning of the fifth day of the novena to the Saint, after having slept all night, he awoke and cried out joyfully to his wife, "Teresa, I am cured! I am perfectly well! That saint has cured me; it is certainly he who has done it."
And it was true, the sores were all perfectly healed, his skin, that had been the color of bronze, had assumed its natural color, his appetite had returned and, in a word, he was in perfect health.
On the 11th of May 1899 he came, with his wife and daughter, to the church to thank St. Anthony Mary for the wonderful miracle. He had a Mass of thanksgiving celebrated at his altar, promising to make a votive offering at his shrine and to recite in honor of his heavenly Benefactor an Our Father, Hail, Mary and a Glory Be every day as long as he lived.
Antonio Marazzi, a father of a family of eight, the eldest of whom was not 21 years of age, fell from a hayloft. His head, having come with great violence against a sharp stone, was terribly cut. He was at once brought to the hospital where it was found that the wound was more than 3.5 inches deep. Almost immediately, tetanus, or what is more commonly known as lockjaw, set in. After a most careful examination, several doctors pronounced his case hopeless. One of his daughters and his sister-in-law (both of whom were hospital nurses), seeing that there was no longer any hope, turned to St. Anthony Mary. They put a pannolino on the sick man, had a Mass celebrated at the tomb of the Saint and began a novena in his honor. This great saint, so sweet and loving in life, and now ever ready to sympathize with those who in their sorrow turn to him with love and confidence, crowned their faith by working a wonderful miracle in their favor. The man was restored to perfect health. The cure was so complete that, as was testified by his sister-in-law on the 2nd of September 1899, he was able to take up his usual employments, just as though he had never been ill. These facts are not only attested by eyewitnesses, but are recorded in the hospital register where not only the case but also the circumstances connected with the cure are minutely described.