Blessed Anthony Neyrot occupies a unique place in Dominican history, as he is the only one among the beautified who ever renounced the faith. He expiated his sin with an act of heroism that merited heaven, washing away in his own blood the denial that might have cost him his soul.
Of the childhood of Blessed Anthony, we know nothing that he was born at Rivoli, in Italy. He was accepted into the Order by Saint Antoninus, who must have been particularly fond of the young man, since he gave him his own name. Completing his studies, Anthony was ordained and lived for a time at San Marco, the famous Dominican convent in Florence. Then, becoming restless and dissatisfied, he asked for a change of mission. He was sent to Sicily, but this did not prove to his liking either so he set out for Naples.
Brother Anthony was sailing from Sicily to Naples when pirates captured the ship. Anthony was taken to Tunis and sold as a slave. He was able to win his freedom, but fell away from the Church. He denied his faith in Jesus and abandoned his religious vocation. He accepted the Koran, the diabolical book of the Muslims. For several months, he practiced the Muslim religion. He also married.
In the meantime, his former Dominican prior, the saintly Antoninus, died. This led Anthony to have a shocking experience. It seems that one night, Anthony had something like a dream. St. Antoninus appeared to him. The conversation between the two men was to lead to a radical change in Anthony. He became truly sorry for having betrayed the Lord. He knew that in his heart he could never give up his faith in Jesus. He knew that he could only be a Catholic. And he realized that he still wanted very much to be a Dominican brother.
Blessed Anthony sent his wife back to her family. He then put on his white Dominican habit. In spite of his fear, he went to see the ruler of Tunis. A large crowd gathered and the ruler came out to the courtyard. Brother Anthony publicly admitted he had made a terrible mistake becoming a Muslim. He was a Catholic. He believed in and loved Jesus. He was a Dominican and wanted to be so for all his life. The ruler was angry. He threatened and then made promises of rewards if only Anthony would take back what he was saying. But Anthony would not. He knew this meant his death.
Anthony knelt and began to pray for the courage to give his life for Jesus. Suddenly he felt the large stones pounding him. He just kept praying for the strength to remain true to the Lord. Then he lost consciousness. Anthony died a martyr in 1460. Some merchants from Genoa, Italy, took his remains back to his own country.
Died: Martyred on Holy Thursday, 1460