Anthony Zaccaria

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Anthony Zaccaria
San Antonio Maria Zaccaria.jpg
Cremona, Duchy of Milan, (now Italy)
Died(1539-07-05)5 July 1539
Cremona, Duchy of Milan
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified3 January 1890, Rome by Pope Leo XIII
Canonized27 May 1897, Rome by Pope Leo XIII
Major shrineSan Paolo convent, Milan, Italy
Feast5 July
AttributesBlack cassock, lily, Cross, Chalice, Host
PatronageThe Barnabite order, Angelic Sisters of St. Paul, Laity of St. Paul, Physicians

Anthony Maria Zaccaria (Italian: Antonio Maria Zaccaria) (1502 – 5 July 1539), also known as Saint Anthony Zaccaria, was an early leader of the Counter Reformation, the founder of religious orders (Barnabites) and a promoter of the devotion to the Passion of Christ, the Eucharist and the renewal of the religious life among the lay people.[1] His feast day is celebrated on 5 July.


Anthony Zaccaria was born in the city of Rome Italy, in 1502 to Lazzaro and Antonia Pescaroli Zaccaria, and was baptized on the same day in the Cathedral of Cremona, probably by his uncle Don Tommaso Zaccaria, canon of the Cathedral. When he was two his father died. His family was of the nobility, and in order to teach him compassion for the poor, his mother made him her almoner.[2] After attending the Episcopal School annexed to the Cathedral, he studied philosophy at the University of Pavia, and, from 1520, medicine at the University of Padua. After completing studies in 1524, he practised as a physician in Cremona for three years.[3] In 1527, he started studying for the priesthood, and was ordained in February 1529. Having explored his calling for two years, mainly working in hospitals and institutions for the poor, he became the spiritual advisor to Countess Ludovica Torelli of Guastalla (then the tiny County of Guastalla) in 1530, and followed her to Milan. In Milan he became a member of the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom.[4]

In Vincenza, he popularized for the laity the Forty-hour devotion—solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration of the faithful—accompanied by preaching. He also revived the custom of ringing church bells at 3 p.m. on Fridays, in remembrance of the Crucifixion.[3]

While on a mission to Guastalla, Italy, in 1539, he caught a fever. Combined with the strict penances he performed, his health waned and he died on 5 July 1539, at the age of 36. The suffragan bishop, Luca di Seriate, who ordained him a priest, presided over the funeral. In attendance were the aristocratic assembly and the people of Cremona and surrounding towns.[3] He was buried in the convent of the Angelics of St Paul, the female branch of the Barnabites, in Milan.


While in Milan, he laid the foundations of three religious orders: one for men (the Clerics Regular of St Paul, commonly known as the Barnabites); a female branch of uncloistered nuns, the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul; and a lay congregation for married people, the Laity of St. Paul, originally called the Married of St. Paul, and sometimes referred to in North America as the Oblates of St. Paul. The three foundations met regularly and engaged together in various forms of apostolic action. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy and religious.[5]

The Clerics Regular of St. Paul (the Barnabites)[edit]

"The Congregation of the Regular Clerks of St. Paul" was canonically sanctioned by Pope Clement VII in 1533.[2] The Barnabites' main devotions were the teachings of Paul of Tarsus and emphasis on love for the Eucharist and Christ crucified. The order was named after the companion of Paul.[5] Since the order criticized what they saw as abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, Zaccaria soon gained a number of enemies, and as the order's founder, he was twice investigated for heresy, in 1534 and 1537. He was acquitted both times. In 1536, he stepped down as general of the order and went to Vicenza, where he reformed two convents and founded the order's second house.

The Angelic Sisters of St. Paul[edit]

On January 15, 1535 Pope Paul III approved the Angelic Sisters with the Bull, "Debitum pastoralis officii". On February 27, 1536 Zaccaria conferred the habit on six postulants of the Angelic Sisters. Zaccaria appointed Paola Antonia Negri Mistress of Novices on March 4, 1537.


After his death, a number of cures were attributed to the intercession of Anthony Mary Zaccaria. 27 years after his death, his body was found to be incorrupt.[2] His mortal remains are now enshrined at the Church of St. Barnabas in Milan, Italy.[4] He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on 27 May 1897. His feast day is celebrated on 5 July.[6] He is a patron saint of physicians.[7]


In art, he is depicted wearing the black cassock of the order and holding a lily, cross, chalice and/or host.

Chronology of the Life of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria[edit]

  • December 1–15, 1502 (Cremona). Anthony Mary Zaccaria is born in the home of the Zaccaria family (Premoli, Storia I, pp. 399–403). - (Probable date is December 8, 1502, Thursday).
  • August 15, 1524 (Padua). According to tradition, on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the student Zaccaria completes his course of study at the University of Padua and returns to Cremona.
  • June 6, 1528 (Cremona). The doctor Zaccaria receives the tonsure and the minor orders.
  • 1528 (Bologna). Zaccaria completes his studies in theology in Bologna.
  • February 20, 1529 (Cremona). Anthony Mary Zaccaria is ordained a priest in the Chapel of St. Joseph by Bishop Luca di Seriate, titular bishop of Duvno and suffragan of Cardinal Benedetto Accolti.
  • End of 1529 (Guastalla). Don Pietro Orsi, Chaplain of the Countess of Guastalla, Ludovica Torelli, dies. Countess Ludovica Torelli, who previously met Zaccaria with his mother when she married Lodovico Stanga, appoints Zaccaria as her new Chaplain, perhaps at the suggestion of Fra Battista da Crema.
  • Fall of 1530 (Milan). Zaccaria joins the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom where he meets Bartolomeo Ferrari and Giacomo Antonio Morigia.
  • August 30, 1531 (Milan). Zaccaria introduces the ringing of bells at 3 o’clock in the afternoon every Friday to commemorate the passion and death of our Lord (Burigozzo, Cronaca, III, 509).
  • December 14, 1531 (Cremona). In his last will and testament, Zaccaria stipulates the construction of a chapel in honor of the Conversion of St. Paul in his parish, St. Donato. It is the first official Pauline center in the Duchy of Milan, after the end of the Circle of Meaux in France (1525).
  • February 25, 1532 (Milan). An onslaught on the apostolate in the city occurs. A Lenten preacher in the Cathedral of Milan (a certain "Carmelite Brother") incites the crowd against the Paulines, but later repents.
  • February 18, 1533 (Bologna). Zaccaria receives from Pope Clement VII, the Bull of approval for his group, still without an official name and residence.
  • November 10, 1533 (Guastalla). As the legal representative of Ludovica (Paola) Torelli, Zaccaria leaves for Curtatone (Mantua) to defend the innocent Fra Battista da Crema from the unjust accusations of his superiors, warning that he will carry out the execution and offer as evidence a new Papal Brief.
  • October 4, 1534 (Milan). To his companions gathered in St. Catherine, and fearful for a lawsuit against all "the house of Paul," Zaccaria addresses a passionate exhortation, urging them to imitate Christ Crucified under the banner of Paul and reduce the cause of the persecution to a simple game of passion.
  • July 25, 1535 (Rome). Pope Paul III, with a Bull of approbation, confirms the devotion to St. Paul for Zaccaria and his group.
  • December 25, 1535 (Milan). On Christmas Day, Anthony Mary Zaccaria celebrates the Mass for the first time at the Oratory of the Monastery of St. Paul of the Angelic Sisters.
  • January 25, 1536 (Milan). Zaccaria officially inaugurates the new Monastery of St. Paul.
  • April 15, 1536 (Milan). Giacomo Antonio Morigia is elected Superior.
  • May 7, 1536 (Milan). Zaccaria promotes the exposition of the Holy Shroud from the balcony of Castello Sforzesco. It is the first in history.
  • November 30, 1536 (Milan). Zaccaria proposes to Fr. Francis Castellino to establish permanently the School of Christian Doctrine for the youth.
  • April 19, 1537 (Guastalla). With a handwritten letter undersigned by Torelli, Zaccaria appoints Giuseppe Fellini of Cremona Podestà (Mayor) of Guastalla.
  • July 2, 1537 (Milan). On Tuesday, Zaccaria accompanies the first Pauline missionaries (Barnabites, Angelic Sisters, and Laity of St. Paul) and some collaborators (Castellino da Castello and Fra Bono Lizzari) to Vicenza, and builds an altar in honor of St. Paul in the Church of the Converted.
  • August 21, 1537 (Milan). The Senate President, Giacomo Filippo Sacchi, issues a full acquittal "ex capite innocentiae" on all the charges of heresy leveled against the Paulines.
  • Year 1537 (Milan). Anthony Mary Zaccaria promotes the solemn Forty Hours Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral of Milan, and in shifts at the "Quattro Porte" (Four Gates) of the city.
  • August 29, 1537 (Milan). At the request of the citizens of Milan, Pope Paul III, with a Papal Brief, Universis Christifidelibus, addressed to the Vicar General, Cardinal Marino Caracciolo, approves and supports the Forty Hours Adoration.
  • November 13, 1538 (Guastalla). Zaccaria asks and obtains justice, with the intervention of the Podestà (Mayor), for Giandomenico Mangalassi, a victim of injustice.
  • June 20, 1539 (Guastalla). Zaccaria writes to the couple Omodei in Milan and speaks of a great "weariness of the body." He feels that his end is imminent and wants to be brought back to Cremona through a boat of dealers who have two mandatory stops (in Cremona and Casalmaggiore) of their trade route along the Po River.
  • July 5, 1539 (Cremona). On Saturday, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, on the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostle, Anthony Mary Zaccaria, dies in his home (in the house where he was born), in the arms of his mother, surrounded by his first companions.


He's left only a few writings: twelve letters, six sermons, and the constitution of the Barnabites.

The Manuscript of Letter 2 of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria


There are eleven letters signed by Anthony Mary. Four are original manuscripts: Letter II (addressed to Bartolomeo Ferrari and Giacomo Antonio Morigia, January 4, 1531); Letter IV (to Giovan Giacomo Piccinini, January 16, 1534); Letter VI (to Ferrari, October 8, 1538); and Letter VII (to Battista Soresina, November 3, 1538). Of the other seven, we have only copies, though they are very early. Three letters are cosigned by Anthony Mary and Angelic Paola Antonia Negri. They are, Letter VI, Letter VII], and Letter VIII. In addition, there is a twelfth letter: though it bears only Negri's signature, it was without a doubt penned by Anthony Mary. In fact, the original manuscript of this letter is in Anthony Mary's own handwriting.

One letter is addressed to Fra Battista da Crema (Letter I); two are addressed to the Angelics (Letter V and Letter IX); three to laymen (Letter III, Letter IV, and Letter XI); and four to the Barnabites (Letter II, Letter VII, Letter VIII, and Letter X). One (Letter VI) is addressed to Bartolomeo Ferrari, but it is meant for both Barnabites and Angelics who were doing missionary work in Vicenza.

The eleven letters cover a nine-year period, 1530 to 1539. However, there are gaps between 1531 and 1534, and between 1534 and 1537. Letter IX and Letter XII are undated. The last three letters, a remarkable total of 2,200 words penned in the brief space of ten busy days, were addressed to an Angelic, a Barnabite, and a Married Couple. Written respectively on June 10, 11, and 20, 1539, that is, within less than a month of his death, these letters unwittingly became, as it were, his final testament to the three families of his foundation. Anthony Mary's letters do not belong to any literary genre nor can they be styled “spiritual letters” per se. They were occasional writings dashed off without any concern for style, in plain, totally unadorned language. However, they do contain a wealth of extraordinary spirituality, a fact easily recognized by his earliest biographers.

Anthony Mary himself, in his last letter, pointedly remarked: “I have not written one word without some special meaning in it. If you discover it, it will be, I think, most useful and gainful for you.”

The 12 Letters of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria[edit]



The manuscript codex of the Sermons is kept in the General Archives of the Barnabites in Rome. It was entrusted by Anthony Mary's mother to the Angelics of Santa Marta Convent in Cremona. Early Barnabite historian, Father Giovanni Antonio Gabuzio, retrieved it during his stay in that city from 1584 to 1595. It is an index-notebook. When he was a student at the University of Padua, Anthony Mary recorded in it some lines of the philosopher, Averroës. Later on, as a priest in Cremona, he wrote in it the talks on the Ten Commandments, which he gave at the Amicizia Oratory in St. Vitalis church. Clearly, he planned to write out ten sermons, one on each commandment. However, the notebook contains only five sermons: four on the first four commandments. The fifth one is on the commandment, but it is only half finished. Sermon I has an appendix on how nuns should practice the first commandment. Maybe it was intended for the Augustinian Community of Santa Maria Annunziata in Cremona.

A sixth sermon was part of a projected trilogy on moral and spiritual lukewarmness. The Sermons are addressed to noble laymen, who were married and had children, and were active members of the Amicizia Oratory, in the years 1529-1530 when Anthony Mary was a priest; however, their content is applicable to everyone. The above-mentioned appendix to Sermon I proves it. All the Sermons have the same structure. They are divided in two parts. The first one treats of a specific theme. In Sermon I it is the “due order” of the spiritual life; in Sermon II, “true spiritual life”; in Sermon III, “acknowledgment”; in Sermon IV, love; in Sermon V, passions; in Sermon VI, the “way of God.” The second part of Sermons 1–V is an extensive exposition of each commandment and its practice. In the case of Sermon VI, the second part is a detailed explanation of lukewarmness. The Sermons exhibit a more elaborate style than that of the Letters. The language, though direct, reveals greater care and elegance. The reasoning is cogently logical and is structured on solid theological preparation. The numerous Biblical quotations reveal a mastery of the Scriptures.

Recently, a hypothesis was put forth, according to which the Sermons are not liturgical homilies, but opening talks given at the Amicizia Oratory meetings, where all present could then speak. It is noteworthy that Anthony Mary reserves the term “sermon” only to his talk on lukewarmness.

List of Sermons[edit]


The Constitutions of 1579

We have no original manuscript of the Constitutions. We only have a very early copy. The Constitutions is no more than an extended outline. It was never approved nor promulgated, hence, it was never binding. In all probability, it is a reworked translation of a previous Latin outline by Fra Battista, the so-called “Primitive Constitutions.” It was a basic text worked on by the first Fathers toward a definitive text.

The available text consists of 19 chapters, but a close scrutiny points to several layers of composition. There is a conclusion at the end of Chapter 16; another one at the end of Chapter 18; and a third one at the end of Chapter 19. This is evidence that the text went through several writings and underwent multiple reworking.

A letter of Father Nicolò D’Aviano, dated October 10, 1570 (even as the definitive Constitutions of 1579 were being redacted), informs us that three chapters of the Constitutions were without a doubt authored by Anthony Mary himself. They are Chapter 12: “Formation of Novices”; Chapter 17: “Signs of Deteriorating 17 Religious Life”; and Chapter 19: “Qualities of a Reformer.” In addition, Anthony Mary's hand can be recognized, more or less, throughout the entire document.

The Constitutions is a document of laws. Hence, its literary genre is juridical. However, in Anthony Mary's additions, the peremptory style turns exhortatory. We may even state that this change of style helps to locate Anthony Mary's interpolations in the original text of Battista da Crema.

See also[edit]


Text of the 1579 Constitutions[edit]


  • Marcello Landi, La presenza della Summa Theologiae di Tommaso d'Aquino nei primi due Sermoni di Antonio Maria Zaccaria in Barnabiti Studi 20 (2003), pp. 69–81
  • Marcello Landi, Sant'Antonio Maria Zaccaria. Contesto storico-culturale e presenza della Summa Theologiae di san Tommaso d'Aquino nei suoi primi tre sermoni, in Sacra Doctrina. Studi e ricerche n. 52 (3/2006), pp. 46–81
  • Fr. Franco Maria Chilardotti, CRSP, 2009 Antonio Maia Zaccaria 1502-1539 : Una meteora del ciquecento nella scia di Paolo Apostolo.

External links[edit]