St. Anthony of Padua had a devotion to Mary as Star of the Sea. In a 1948 critical study of the historical sources of the life, sanctity, learning and miracles of the Saint of Padua by Raphael M. Huber published in Milwaukee, it is clear that St. Anthony of Padua was very familiar and devoted to this title of Mary.
Huber claims that St. Anthony makes a “beautiful comparison between ourselves and the angels. The angels who are secure from all storms and abiding on the safe shores of eternity salute Mary, their Queen, merely by exclaiming ‘Hail, full of grace: we, however by exclaiming “Ave Maria”. What is the reason given for this latter invocation? Simply this: “Mary, etymologically speaking signifies the bitter water of the sea in which we are in danger of being submerged, but from which through her we are protected, escape all danger and arrive at the safe haven of eternity; for she is the Star of the Sea who rescues us from tempests shows us the way and guides us to the port of safety.”
It is said in St. Anthony’s dying moments that he intoned “the beautiful hymn ‘Hail Glorious Queen-for to him she had always been a radiant star, illuminating the night and showing the way to the safe havens of eternity. She it was who was to guide him to Christ ‘as a shining light, pointing to the King of Kings, God Almighty.”
This saint invites us to “think of everything heavenly here on earth: of a young bride on her wedding day; of a friar or nun on the day of the profession of vows; of a priest or bishop on the day of his ordination or consecration -then, bind all these together in a fragrant, variegated bouquet and you have what St. Anthony declares when he calls Mary “the paradise of humanity.” Think of Mary as queen…as the gate to all graces, the mediatrix of all graces…and you will understand why St. Anthony so loved Mary and why his Mariology continues to inspire us all.
Anthony, like Saint Francis, was passionate in his love for Mary. In his sermons he expressed this beautiful prayer to the Mother of our Lord.
To the Blessed Virgin Mary
We praise you, Our Lady,
You, star of the sea, enlighten your children
overwhelmed by this stormy sea of sin;
let us reach the safe haven of forgiveness,
and, grateful for your protection,
may we conclude our lives
with the help of the One you carried in your womb
and fed by your holy breast.
May honor and glory
be with Him for ever and ever.
Paintings: Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Motherhouse