Antonio Claret and Clará was born in Sallent (Barcelona), about 15 km from Manresa, on December 23, 1807, in a deeply Christian family. Two days later, on the feast of the Nativity of the Lord, his parents, Juan and Josefa, have him baptized in the parish church of Santa Maria. Antonio is the fifth of eleven children, of which five die before their fifth birthday. He grows in a home dedicated to textile manufacturing. Just a few months after his birth, the rhythmic beat of the looms is ruined by the outbreak of the French invasion and the War of Independence. The atmosphere of violence and insecurity does not overawe him; on the contrary, it strengthens his infantile temper. Although he is carried on someone’s shoulders to escape the fighting during the first years of war, when he is just four or five years old he is brave enough to accompany and guide his elderly grandfather who being almost blind, was left behind in the darkness.
Little Anton finds peace of mind and strength in his friendship with Jesus, whom he encounters in the Eucharist, as well as in his devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose chapel in Fussimanya he often visits with her sister Rosa praying the rosary. His child’s heart is tender and touched the pain of others. At five years of age, he often thinks about the eternal misery of those who are condemned. This feeling make him eager to help everyone to live according to the will of God and thus avoiding eternal suffering.