MS H.8, fols. 185v–186r

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St. Anthony of Padua: Anthony and the Miracle of the Kneeling Horse

Hours of Henry VIII
Illuminated by Jean Poyer

France, Tours
ca. 1500
256 x 180 mm

Gift of the Heineman Foundation, 1977

MS H.8, fols. 185v–186r

St. Anthony of Padua: Anthony and the Miracle of the Kneeling Horse
Border: Anthony Preaching (fol. 185v)

One of Anthony's most popular miracles involved a challenge to prove the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Although the story is normally told about a mule, Poyer has replaced it with a horse, who ignores the proffered feed and kneels before the host that Anthony holds over a chalice.

Born in Lisbon in 1195, the saint is known as Anthony of Padua because the basilica in that city (where he briefly resided) possesses his miracle-working relics. Already, as a pious youth, he used prayer to overcome the severe temptations against purity that he suffered during his teens. Initially joining the Augustinian order, he later became a Franciscan friar and preached throughout northern Italy and southern France with great success.

Anthony died in 1231 at Arcella, near Padua, and was quickly canonized by Pope Gregory IX the following year. Until the end of the fourteenth century his cult was a local Paduan phenomenon. However, in the fifteenth century, Bernardino of Siena, a noted theologian and leader of the Franciscan order, brought Anthony wider renown, making him the most popular Franciscan saint after Francis of Assisi.

An unbelieving man, a Jew named Guillard, looks on in astonishment, as he had claimed that he would be convinced if a horse could pass up a measure of oats for the consecrated Host. (Feast day: June 13)

Having a magnificent memory and vast knowledge of the Bible, Anthony and was acclaimed for his skill in preaching, which began when a misunderstanding at an ordination left the service without a speaker. His superiors ordered him to come forward and say whatever the Holy Spirit put into his mouth, which he did with great style, passion, and erudition.