BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES ON ST. ANTHONY MARY CLARET
Born of a family of weavers on December 23, 1807 in Sallent (Spain), Anthony Mary Claret is referred to as the “weaver who became an apostle.” The gospel passage, (Luke 9:25) “What profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” so profoundly impressed him that he turned from a promising textile career to the priesthood.
Claret School of Zamboanga City is named after this man who so loved the young that he constantly sought them, to lead them through life towards the Father. Thus he wrote: “The first thing I saw, was the instruction of children…not only because I have always felt a strong inclination toward this kind of education but also because I have come to realize its prime importance” (Autobiography, 275). He made a lifelong dedication to teaching children: “I have made it my occupation as a student, priest, administrator, missionary, and even as an archbishop” (Aut., 284)
In his missionary work Claret traveled on foot, preaching ceaselessly and distributing books and leaflets he himself had written on diverse topics “in keeping with the more urgent things…observed in society” (Aut., 315, 318). He was the great catechist of his century.
Claret founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretian Missionaries, CMF) and co-founded with Mother Antonia Paris the Congregation of the Religious of Mary Immaculate (RMI). He also founded organizations of writers and artists, established a religious press, set up credit unions, founded the Academy of St. Michael for Spanish intellectuals, a seminary and high school, and reestablished Spain’s public libraries. All these and more made him famous though he never sought fame as he himself wrote: “But I do not preach to you for any aim I have that God, my Father, be known, loved and served by all.” (Aut., 200-202).
Claret died on October 24, 1870. In 1899, Leo XII declared him “Venerable”. In 1934, Pope Pius XI pronounced him “Blessed” and on May 7, 1950 , Pope Pius XII declared him a Saint.