He was called back to Italy to fight heretics, but again God, writing straight with crooked lines, had another plan as well...Prove to them, I am with them to the end of time.
He went to Rimini, on the Adriatic Sea, to the southeast of Padua. He was not faring successfully there.
The heretics made fun of him, and when he spoke of the Eucharist, they became hysterical, ridiculing him.
St. Anthony was known for his sharp temper.
When the heretics poked fun at him while he spoke at the port of Rimini, he turned towards the sea, and spoke to the fish.
The fish, for their part, raised their bodies out of the water, and perched, as it were, on top of the water, listening to the homily given by St. Anthony. When he was finished, St. Anthony blessed the fish, at which point they returned to the sea.
The enemies of the Church, on seeing this, were completely overwhelmed.
Word spread throughout the town, and heretics by the droves were converted.
But there was one man, Bonvillo, by name, who wasn’t impressed with St. Anthony’s persuasive ways. He said to him, “You, who hold fish spellbound, let’s see if you can do the same to my mule.”
A challenge was made.
The heretic would starve his mule for three days.
At the end of that time, Saint Anthony would stand on one end of the square, holding the Eucharist, and Bonvillo on the other, with a pail of the animal’s favorite fodder.
If the mule went to Saint Anthony first, the heretic would stop persecuting Catholics.
The beast was starved for three days.
Saint Anthony fasted and prayed for three days. On the third day, St. Anthony celebrated Mass at the local church.
After the Mass, he took a consecrated Host with him out into the square.
The square was packed with heretics on one side, and those who had been converted on the other.
Bonvillo, the heretic, had his mule by his side. He tempted the animal with the pail of fodder that was to be the bait.
At the given time, St. Anthony went to one corner of the square, with the Eucharist in his hand. The heretic went off to the other side, with the pail of delicious smelling food in his hands. He tried to lure the mule with the food. St. Anthony gave the animal a little sermon.
He said, “Creature of God, in His name, I command you to come here to adore Him, so that it will give truth to all, of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.”
The mule ignored his owner and the food, and went instead over to where St. Anthony held the Body of Christ.
He knelt down on both legs, and lowered his head in reverence.
When all were convinced that the Lord had won out over the heretic, Saint Anthony blessed the mule, who then got up, and proceeded to eat all the fodder in the pail.
The heretic Bonvillo followed the example of his mule.
He went down on his knees, head bowed to the ground, in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
He was converted back to the faith. Before Saint Anthony left Rimini, he had converted all the heretics in that region.
He was given the title Hammer of the Heretics.
It’s not known for sure if it was given him as a result of the conversions in Rimini, or simply because he had the reputation of beating down his opponents into conversion.
Poor St. Anthony! For such a brilliant man, and fervent defender of the faith, he is given the strangest titles. 0 There is a shrine in Rimini, in honor of the Eucharistic Miracle of Saint Anthony and the Donkey.