St. Anthony Mary Claret was born in Catalonia, the northeastern corner of Spain, in a town called Sallent on December 23, 1807. He was the fifth son of Juan Claret and Josefa Clará's eleven children. His father owned a small textile factory, but was not rich. Anthony grew up in a Christian environment, and at a very early age had a strong sense of the eternal life that Christ wanted all men and women to enjoy. He wanted to spare sinners eternal unhappiness, and felt moved to work for their salvation. When he was about eleven years old, a bishop visited his school and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Without hesitation he responded: "A priest."
As soon as Anthony was old enough, he began working as an apprentice weaver. When he turned 17, his father sent him to Barcelona to study the latest techniques in textile manufacturing and to work in the large textile mills. He did so well in the textile design school that he began receiving offers from large textile companies. Even though he had the talent to succeed, he turned down the offers and returned home after experiencing the emptiness of worldly achievements.
The words of the Gospel kept resounding in his heart: "what good is it for man to win the world if he loses his soul?" He began to study Latin to prepare to enter the Seminary. He wanted to be a Carthusian Monk. His father was ready to accept the will of God, but preferred to see him become a diocesan priest. Anthony decided to enter the local diocesan seminary in the city of Vic.
He was 21 years old. After a year of studies, he decided to pursue his monastic vocation and left for a nearby monastery. On the way there, he was caught in a big storm. He realized that his health was not the best, and withdrew from his decision to go to the monastery.
He was ordained a priest at 27 years of age and was assigned to his hometown parish. The town soon became too small for his missionary zeal, and the political situation -hostile to the Church- limited his apostolic activity. He decided to go to Rome to offer himself to serve in foreign missions. Things did not work out as expected, and he decided to join the Jesuits to pursue his missionary dream. While in the Jesuit Novitiate, he developed a strange illness, which led his superiors to think that God might have other plans for him. Once again, he had to return home to keep searching for God's will in his life.
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