On the return trip to Portugal, his ship was driven by storm upon the coast of Sicily and he landed at Messina. From Sicily he made his way to Assisi and sought admission into a monastery in Italy, but met with difficulty on account of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned, out of pure compassion, to the rural hospice of San Paolo near Forli, Romagna, Italy, a choice made after considering his poor health. There he appears to have lived as a hermit and was put to work in the kitchen.
In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, who he suspected was most qualified, and engineered him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Anthony objected but was overruled, and his sermon created a deep impression. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers.
At that point, Anthony was commissioned by Brother Gratian, the minister provincial, to preach the Gospel throughout Lombardy, a region in northern Italy. From then on his skills were used to the utmost by the Church. Occasionally he took another post, as a teacher, for instance, at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse—both in southern France—but it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift.
Anthony became ill with dropsy and, in 1231, went to the woodland retreat at Camposampiero with two other friars for a respite. There Anthony lived in a cell built for him under the branches of a walnut tree. Saint Anthony died on 13 June 1231 at the Poor Clare convent at Arcella on the way back to Padua at age of 36.
When he died, it is said that the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord, rung by angels come to earth to honour the death of the saint. He is buried in a chapel, and to this day his tongue is in a reliquary, and is incorrupt although he is not an incorruptible. It glistens and looks as if it is still alive and moist.
Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on January 16, 1946, he is sometimes called " Evangelical Doctor".
Each year on the weekend of the last Sunday in August, Boston's North End holds a feast in honor of St. Anthony. Referred to as the "Feast of all Feasts", St. Anthony's Feast in Boston's North End was begun in 1919 by Italian immigrants from Montefalcione, a small town near Naples, where the tradition of honoring St. Anthony goes back to 1688. The feast has become the largest Italian religious festival in the United States.
On January 27, 1907 in Beumont, Texas, a church was dedicated and named in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. The church was later designated a cathedral in 1966 with the formation of the Roman Catholic Diocese Of Beaumont, but was not formally consecrated. On April 28, 1974, St Anthony Cathedral was dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Warren Boudreaux. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI granted St. Anthony Cathedral the designation of minor basilica. St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica celebrated its 100th anniversary on January 28, 2007.