Zaccaria, Anthony Mary, St.
ZACCARIA, ANTHONY MARY, ST.
Physician and priest, founder of the barnabites and the Angelicals of St. Paul; b. Cremona, Italy, 1502; d. there, July 5, 1539. His mother, Antonietta Pescaroli, was 18 years old at the death of her husband, Lazzaro, and she subsequently gave her whole attention to the education of her infant son. After his first studies at Cremona and Pavia, Anthony obtained a doctorate in medicine at Padua in 1524. While exercising his profession among the poor of Cremona, he felt a growing attraction to a religious apostolate. Having already made a notarized renunciation of any future inheritance, he began teaching catechism in the church of S. Vitale, and in 1528 he became a priest. At his first Mass, celebrated contrary to custom without solemnity, angels appeared at the altar. After two years of ministry, he was transferred to Milan as chaplain to Countess Ludovica Torelli of Guastalla. There he joined the Confraternity of Eternal Wisdom together with Bartolomeo ferrari and Giacomo Morigia. Under the inspiration of his confessor, Battista da Crema, OP, he and two friends laid the foundations of the Congregation of Clerks Regular of St. Paul, known generally as Barnabites and approved by Clement VII in 1533. With Countess Torelli he instituted the Angelicals of St. Paul for religious women. This too was approved, by Paul III in 1535. The ambition of these two religious families was to reform the decadent society of the 16th century, beginning with the clergy, and including a renewal of spiritual life in monasteries of men and women.
Inspired by St. Paul, for whom he had great devotion, Zaccaria preached in churches and in the streets; performed public penances, which impressed his audiences; and conducted missions throughout Lombardy and in Venice. He did not fear to introduce innovations such as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate; frequent, even daily Communion; the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the 40 Hours' Devotion; the ringing of bells at three o'clock each Friday afternoon: and so on. These new things stirred the people to much good, but they also provoked a reaction and persecution that resulted in the official ecclesiastical processes of 1534–35 and 1537. On both occasions the Barnabites were exonerated. In May 1539, Zaccaria, already ill, accepted the commission to restore peace to Guastalla, then under pontifical interdict. After two months of fatiguing labor Zaccaria, sensing that death was near, was brought to Cremona for a last visit with his mother; he died there, only 36 years of age.
The spirituality of Zaccaria, austere though open to human sentiment and characterized by ardent, apostolic activity, is well reflected in his writings (see Bibliotheca sanctorum 2:220). His popular cult was suspended by Urban VIII in 1634, but the process for his canonization was reintroduced in 1890. On May 27, 1897, he was canonized by Leo XIII. His body rests at Milan in the crypt of S. Barnaba. In his iconography he is represented either with his first two companions or with a lily or a symbol recalling his three devotions, the Eucharist, the Crucifixion, and St. Paul.
Feast: July 5.
Bibliography: a. m. teppa, Vita del beato A. M. Zaccaria (Milan 1897). f. t. moltedo, Vita di S. A. M. Zaccaria (Florence 1897). g. chastel, Saint Antoine-Marie Zaccaria, Barnabite (Paris 1930). e. caspani, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al., (Paris 1932—) 1:720–723. g. boffito, Bibtioteca Barnabitica, 4 v. (Florence 1933–37) 4:209–264, bibliog. and iconography. a. m. gentili, Prontuario per lo spirito (Milan 1994).
[u. m. fasola]