THE BRIEF OF SAINT ANTHONY
A miraculous healing of diabolical obsession, attributed to the power of St Anthony of Padua, was recorded in Portugal during the reign of King Denis. Under the guise of a heavenly visitant, the devil frequently appeared to a woman of Lisbon and urged her to throw herself into the river Tagus in order to obtain the remission of her sins and eternal happiness. The tormented woman at length decided to drown herself. Passing a Franciscan chapel on her way to the river, where they were celebrating the solemn feast of St. Anthony of Padua on June 13th, the feast day of the St. Anthony. She entered, and kneeling before the altar of St. Anthony, implored the Saint to help her save her soul. Overcome by fatigue, she fell asleep. During her slumber St. Anthony appeared to her, revealed the deceit of the “father of lies” and released her from the obsession. On awaking, the woman found a letter which the Saint had given her during the vision. It contained the prayer now known as the “Brief of St Anthony.” News of this miracle spread, even to the King who asked the woman for the Brief. He placed it with the Crown Jewels of Portugal. With the support of the Franciscan Order, this prayer was rapidly widespread. Also thanks to the Franciscan Pope Pious V (1585-1590) who had it engraved at the bottom of the obelisk in Rome in St. Peter’s Square, where it still is today.
The first part of this powerful short prayer is present in the Holy Scriptures in the Book of Apocalypse where, in Chapter 5 Verse 5 we read: “Vicit Leo de tribu Iudae, radix David” (The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed).
Furthermore, we can also find the prayer of St. Anthony’s Brief – that has proven exorcistic power – in the two Rituals of Exorcism, today in use to the Catholic Church: both in the 1614 Old Ritual and in the 2004 New Ritual issued by John Paul II.