Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Dying Words of St. Anthony

Last week I came across the dying words of two famous people. This reminded me of my book I Am Going . . . Reflections on the Last Words of the Saints published by ACTA. It contains the dying words of 87 saints. As a sample, I copied here an excerpt about one of the most intriguing saints. Fourteen of the saints are depicted in stunning black and white portraits. Alas, St. Anthony isn’t one of them. Sister Angela, one of our younger sisters, says that of all my books, this is her favorite.

St. Anthony of Padua (1195–1231)    

Priest, Religious, Doctor of the Church     June 13


Born in Lisbon, Portugal, St. Anthony joined the Augustinian order. After seeing the bodies of five Franciscans martyred in Morocco, he recycled himself as a Franciscan and went to Morocco. Due to ill health, Anthony was sent home, but on the way a storm redirected his ship to Italy, where he stayed. One day Anthony was asked to give a homily spontaneously, and his remarkable gift for preaching was revealed. He preached throughout Italy, France, and Belgium, converting many heretics. Today we turn to St. Anthony for help in locating lost objects, supposedly because a runaway novice who had stolen the saint’s annotated Psalter returned with it.

Last Words

“I see my Lord.”

Reflection: The Physical Appearance of Jesus

A prostitute who turned her life around became involved in our parish. She claimed to have visions of Jesus. One day during a retreat, while Father Jim was speaking, she exclaimed, “Father Jim, I see Jesus! He’s standing right next to you.” Calmly the priest replied, “Now we all know that Jesus is with us. Some of us can see him, and some of us can’t.” Unfazed, he continued with his talk.

Shroud of Turin

We non-visionaries can only speculate what Jesus looked like. Because he was a first-century Jewish man, we can surmise that he was about 5’4”, olive-skinned, and had black or brown hair and brown eyes. Yet Scripture reports that his ancestor King David had auburn hair! It’s debatable whether Jesus had a beard or long hair. The Shroud of Turin, not yet proven to be authentic, supports that he did.

Some people assume that because Jesus was the Son of God, he was strikingly handsome, like King David who, according to Scripture, was good-looking and had beautiful eyes. (1 Samuel 16:12) Others, though, quote Isaiah 53:2 which states, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” As a construction worker, Jesus most likely was strong and muscular. As an itinerant preacher who lived outdoors and trekked for miles and sometimes through deserts, he must have been tough and tanned. Because Jesus addressed crowds of thousands without a microphone, he surely had a booming voice. Without question Jesus greatly resembled his mother, Mary of Nazareth, the sole source of his DNA.

Regardless of his physical appearance, Jesus possessed a charisma that drew people to him like a magnet. The apostles, early martyrs, and, centuries later, St. Anthony, who called Jesus “my Lord,” devoted their lives to him. Millions still follow him.

We might wish that we had lived in Galilee when Jesus did so we could meet him in the flesh and hear his voice as his first disciples did. Most saints were not gifted with visions of Jesus either. Like them, we must wait until we die to see Jesus face-to-face and enjoy the Beatific Vision. In the meantime, our love is literally blind. However, we count on the last beatitude of Jesus, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29).


Imagine that Jesus, the risen Lord, stands before you, smiling and gazing on you with love. What would you say to him? Jesus is with you now, though invisible. Speak to him.

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