Anthony was born in Portugal in 1185 and baptized as Ferdinand. At age 15, he entered the order of St. Augustine, but soon left for a quieter monastery in Coimbra. There, he saw the bones of Franciscan martyrs from Morocco and was inspired to be like them, willing to give his life to spread the Gospel. He joined the Order of Friars Minor, to travel to Morocco; he adopted the name of Anthony, ready to start a new life.
Once in Morocco, though, Anthony became ill and had to go back to Portugal. But his ship was blown off course, and landed in Italy instead. In Padua, Anthony lived a quiet, unassuming life - until he was asked to stand in as a speaker at an ordination. When he spoke to the group, this monk's gift for preaching was revealed, and his life changed forever.
Anthony was such a magnetic, gifted speaker that huge crowds of people, sometimes up to 30,000 strong, came to hear him. Anthony often held mass outdoors, because no church was big enough to hold the crowds. His speeches were so powerful that they inspired enemies to reconcile, thieves to confess and heretics to convert. So many people were touched by Anthony's peacemaking efforts that he is know as the "wonder worker."
Another well-known nickname given to Anthony is "Finder of Lost Things." Legend has it that Anthony's favorite prayer book was stolen by a novice monk who was running away. Anthony prayed that the book be found, and an apparition then appeared before the novice, demanding the book's immediate return. Today, people as for Anthony's intercession with God when they are searching for lost articles.