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Blessed Anthony Neyrot

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Very soon now, April 10th in fact, we Dominicans will celebrate one of the more unusual blesseds on our calendar, Blessed Anthony Neyrot (d. 1460). Bl. Anthony was the only Dominican blessed ever to renounce his faith, and yet in the end return to the faith and die a martyr’s death. Bl. Anthony is a reminder to us that nothing is lost which cannot be found again, and no one can stray so far that the Good Shepherd cannot bring him or her home.

Not much is known about the youth of Bl. Anthony, only that he was from Rivoli in Italy. He was received into the Order by the great Dominican, Saint Antoninus. After his studies and ordination, Anthony was assigned to the convent of San Marco in Florence. Being somewhat wayward and impatient, Anthony quickly grew tired of this and asked for a change of scenery. He was sent first to Sicily, about which he was not thrilled, and then to Naples. While sailing to Naples, Anthony’s ship was captured by pirates, and he and the other passengers were taken to the city of Tunis in North Africa.

 At first, Anthony was well-liked by the emir in Tunis and was allowed a measure of freedom. His continuing arrogance, though, quickly brought the wrath of his captors and Anthony was put in prison and given only bread and water. Anthony eventually gave in, denying his faith in order to obtain his freedom. Anthony quickly embraced his new faith, even going so far as to attempt a translation of the Qur’an. Soon, he was adopted by the emir and married a high-born Turkish lady.

 Anthony’s newfound complacency, though, was quickly shattered. Into his life came the news that his beloved teacher and mentor, Saint Antoninus, had died. Love for his old master stirred in Anthony’s heart a desire for the Truth which he had abandoned. He resolved very quickly to return to the Christian faith. Anthony decided to make his return publicly. In private, he confessed and was reconciled to God. Then, during one of the emir’s public processions, Anthony appeared on the palace steps wearing again his Dominican habit, and proclaiming his faith in a loud voice, and his sorrow at ever having abandoned it. Failing to change Anthony’s mind, the emir ordered his death. Anthony died under a shower of stones, proclaiming his faith and his sorrow on Holy Thursday, 1460. His body was eventually returned to Rivoli, where it still rests.

 Holy Mary, Searcher for the Lost, pray for us.

 Blessed Anthony Neyrot, pray for us.