Saint of the Day for 24 October: St. Anthony Mary Claret
St. Anthony Mary Claret: Life, Vision and Impact of the Great Spanish Missionary
Antonio María Claret y Clará
Dec. 24, 1807, Sallent, Spain
Oct. 24, 1870, Fontfroide, France
Feb. 25, 1934, Rome, Pope Pius XI
May 07, 1950, Rome, Pope Pius XII
Lord, our God, who chose St. Anthony Mary Claret as the founder of our Family, and willed that, burning with charity, he should enjoy calumny and torment; benignly grant that, faithfully adhering to his teachings, we may proclaim your glory in every part of the world and always solicitously seek the salvation of all men. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
St. Anthony Mary Claret, bishop: ordained a priest, for many years traveled the region of Catalonia in Spain preaching to the people; he established the Society of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, when he became bishop of Santiago on the island of Cuba, worked with great merit for the salvation of souls. Returning to Spain, he still sustained many labors for the Church, finally dying an exile among the Cistercian monks of Fontfroide near Narbonne in southern France.
The Saint and Mission
The life of St. Anthony Mary Claret can be read as an authentic spiritual odyssey, where each stage was marked by the mission to bring Christ to the world. Founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this 19th-century Spanish saint fervently embodied the missionary vocation, feeling deeply the urgency to evangelize and respond to people’s spiritual needs.
Claret’s missionary vocation was driven by an inner fire, an unquenchable passion for Christ and His Word. The ardor with which he preached, founded educational institutions and promoted social justice was rooted in a deep experience of God and a sincere love for humanity. He felt that every soul was of inestimable value in God’s eyes and, as a result, felt it was his duty to reach out to every person, regardless of his or her status or condition.
But Claret’s mission did not stop at the verbal preaching of the Gospel. He understood that authentic evangelization requires an incarnational presence, an immersion in the reality of people. His missionary work was characterized by a deep sense of solidarity with the poor and marginalized. He recognized that in order to convey the message of Christ effectively, it was necessary to listen, understand and share the challenges and aspirations of the people he was addressing.
This deep commitment to mission led Claret to travel relentlessly, facing dangers and challenges, always moved by the certainty that the Gospel had the power to transform hearts and minds. His dedication to the missionary cause was so intense that he saw no insurmountable obstacles, only opportunities to spread the light of Christ.
Claret’s approach to mission was integrated: he not only preached the Word, but also strove to respond to the material and social needs of communities. He promoted education, literacy and defended people’s rights, understanding that spiritual well-being is intimately linked to material and social well-being.
The figure of St. Anthony Mary Claret is a shining example of how the missionary vocation can be lived with passion and dedication. His life shows us that mission is not a task to be fulfilled, but a call to live fully, to love deeply and to serve wholeheartedly. And through his witness, he invites us to respond with the same ardor and commitment to the missionary call that resonates in the heart of every Christian.
The Saint and Mercy
The figure of Saint Anthony Mary Claret emerges strongly among the great saints of the Church for his ardent spirit of charity and mercy. His life, while being a path of faith and devotion, is also a testimony of an unceasing commitment in the field of mercy towards those who are on the margins, forgotten or in need.
In Claret’s work and teaching, mercy is not understood simply as a feeling of pity or compassion, but as an active and concrete duty to succour, support, and renew. His deep relationship with the Sacred Heart of Mary was not just a matter of private devotion, but was reflected in a genuine and practical love for all those he encountered, especially the most vulnerable.
It was mercy, understood as working love, that drove him to missions in often difficult and dangerous places. His passion for evangelisation stemmed not only from a desire to spread the faith, but also from a deep need to respond to people’s spiritual and material suffering. St Anthony saw mercy as a bridge between the divine and the human, a key to open hearts and guide souls towards the light of truth and the love of God.
The importance Claret attached to spiritual and cultural formation, the promotion of justice and the support of the needy, was rooted in this vision of mercy as a fundamental vocation. He recognised that Gospel truth had the power not only to enlighten the mind, but also to heal the wounds of soul and body. His work of spreading the Good News was, therefore, intrinsically linked to the work of mercy.
In the life of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, mercy takes a central role, not only as a sentiment, but as a mission. A mission that goes beyond mere charity and becomes a commitment, a choice of life, an active response to the needs of suffering humanity. He did not limit himself to preaching mercy, but lived it in every gesture, every encounter, every decision.
Saint Anthony Mary Claret is a shining example of how mercy, when lived in depth, can become the driving force behind a life dedicated to the service of others. His legacy is not only in the works he left behind, but in the inspiration he continues to offer to all those who seek to combine faith and action, prayer and concrete commitment in the world. A lesson that still resonates powerful and necessary today.
Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, better known as the Claretians, is a living testimony to evangelical ardour and missionary passion. Founded by St. Anthony Mary Claret in the 19th century, these missionaries embodied the founder’s ideal: to be authentic apostles, ready to spread the light of the Gospel to every corner of the world, with a special love for the most needy and marginalised.
The choice of the name “Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” is not accidental. It expresses a dual devotion: to Mary, mother of Christ and mother of the Church, and to her immaculate heart, symbol of pure and unconditional love. Claretians identify with this devotion, seeing in Mary a model of faith, hope and charity, and seeking to imitate her example in proclaiming the Gospel.
One of the distinctive aspects of Claretian spirituality is the understanding of the apostolate as a response to God’s love. Missionaries are not only driven by the need to evangelise, but also by a deep love for God and people. This love is what drives them to travel to remote places, to share life with the poor and to defend the rights of marginalised people. It is a love that transcends cultural, linguistic and geographical barriers, leading Claretians to become true citizens of the world, united in their diversity by the common mission of bringing Christ to all.
The Claretians’ integrated vision of the apostolate is also manifested in the way they address missionary challenges. They recognise that the proclamation of the Gospel cannot be separated from the promotion of justice, peace and human dignity. In this sense, their evangelisation is not just a matter of words, but also of concrete actions that reflect God’s love for each person. Be it educational projects, social justice initiatives or development programmes, the Claretians are committed to making the Kingdom of God a tangible reality in people’s lives.
The Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a manifestation of the missionary ardour that burned in the heart of St. Anthony Mary Claret. The Claretians today continue to live this legacy, responding with passion and dedication to Christ’s call to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’. Through their service and witness, they remind us that the Gospel is not just good news to be proclaimed, but a reality to be lived in depth, with a heart burning with love for God and neighbour.
It was 23 December 1807. In the small village of Sallent (Barcelona), Antonio M. Claret was born. His parents were excellent: honest, hard-working, trusting in Divine Providence. If the root was healthy, the fruit was exquisite. Anthony distinguished himself early on for his devotion to the Virgin and the Eucharist. He often went with his sister to the nearby Sanctuary and devoutly recited the Holy Rosary. Mary appreciated this homage. In fact, it is said that he was saved by the Virgin as the waves of the sea were about to swallow him up.
The good qualities of soul cultivated through a careful family upbringing matured in him the vocation to the priesthood. With a tenacious and constant will, he was able to overcome obstacles. Between one occupation and…