St. Anthony of Padua and the Mule
by Joseph the younger Heinz
One of the Great Fraciscan prachers and miracle workers was St.Anthony of Padua (1195-1231). He entered the Franciscan Order when St. Francis was still alive and the two of them knew each other. One of the great miracles He performed was as described below. It concerned a Mule and it's owner, a man who did not believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It goes as follows:
During the 13th century St. Anthony of Padua was reported to have converted a hardened heretic through a rather unique contest. The heretic, by the name of Bononillo, was unmoved by the reasoning of the "hammer of heretics," as St. Anthony was called. Bononillo was as stubborn as the mule that stood beside him.
Eyeing the mule, Anthony made an offer to Bononillo. He asked him whether he would give up his heresy if the mule were to bow down and adore its Creator present in the Blessed Sacrament. The heretic answered he would, provided he could lay down certain conditions: for two days the mule was not to be fed, and on the third day it was to be led into the public square. On one side of the square would be placed a tempting pile of fresh feed, on the opposite side Anthony could stand with what Bononillo contemptuously called the "body of Christ." Anthony agreed, but in all humility made one condition. If the animal did not kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, his sins alone were to be blamed.
The day arrived for this strange contest and the square was crowded with people. When the derisive Bononillo arrived with his half-starved mule, he was fully confident that his mule had sense and appetite enough to go after the feed. But he was wrong. Anthony had implored his Lord in the intervening two days for the soul of this heretic. God did not let his faithful servant down. When turned loose, the mule without the least hesitation advanced towards Anthony and knelt in an attitude of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. With much emotion and contrition the heretic too fell on his knees and gave up his heresy.