Holy relics to visit Antigonish
Antigonish will be one stop on a modernday pilgrimage for the venerable relics of St. Anthony of Padua. Two relics of the Saint Anthony are coming to St. Ninian’s Parish.
Bishop Brian Dunn has given blessing to Friar Alessandro Ratti to visit Antigonish with the relics; St. Anthony of Padua’s floating rib and a portion of skin from the saint’s cheek.
The two relics have traveled around Europe and North and South America, visiting parishes and being venerated by the many members of the Catholic community – and many Catholic leaders.
In an address in Cologne, Germany, Aug. 18, 2005, Pope Benedict Emeritus said, "By inviting use to venerate the mortal remains of the martyrs and saints, the Church does not forget that, in the end, these are indeed just human bones, but they are bones that belonged to individuals touched by the living power of God."
"The relics of the saints are traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst."
When Pope Francis was Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, he led a parade through the capital of Argentina in 2000, carrying a reliquary with one of St. Anthony’s relics.
Sister Lucy of Fatima, one of the three seers of Fatima, venerated the very relics coming to the Antigonish diocese during her convent in Coimbra, Portugal on the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Anthony.
The relics will be at St. Ninian’s Cathedral Nov. 10 from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A Holy Vigil will take place at 4 p.m. and veneration of the relics will begin at 1 p.m. Part of the celebration at St. Ninian’s will be prayer petition. Holy cards will be given in each parish where the relics will travel, allowing parishioners to write prayers to St. Anthony.
Information released from the Pontifical Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua stated,
"the writing of prayer petition/intention is a worldwide tradition when venerating a relic of a saint. Father Alessandro will bring the petitions back to the Pontifical Basilica in Padua and place them at the tomb of St. Anthony."
The tour of the relics officially ends back at the Tomb of St. Anthony, where friars will gather to pray to the saint, keeping in mind the intentions and petitions gathered from the tour.
For those who find the concept of relics peculiar, Franciscan Friar Mario Conte, editor of The Messenger of St. Anthony wrote, "there is nothing superstitious about relics. The real meaning of a relic is love – they are a link of love between the person who venerates and the saint."
"The saints will give us a message," Conte wrote. "They tell us: be faithful to the Lord, because the Lord does not disappoint."
Anthony of Padua, born in Portugal, was a friar of the Franciscan Order. He is well known for reached sainthood a year after his death – the shortest time in the history of the church, it took someone to become a saint. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946 for his expert knowledge of scripture and preaching. His remains are stored in the Basilica in Padua.
Historical records indicate St. Anthony died and was buried in a small church outside of Padua on June 13, 1231. In 1262, his remains were transferred to the basilica – which was newly constructed.
In response to reported miracle activity surrounding the tomb of St. Anthony, the Franciscan Friars opened the saint’s coffin. Upon opening it, bones and ashes were found, but "the saint’s vocal apparatus was found to be intact and his tongue was still red and soft."
Minister General Giovanni Di Fidanza – who would later become St. Bonaventure – presided over the opening of the coffin, and proclaimed the discovery a miracle.
St. Anthony of Padua is known as finder of lost items – this stems from an incident in his own life. Information from the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua states that a young novice decided to leave the Franciscan order, taking Anthony’s book of psalms, which contained notes about teachings to his students.
Anthony, after praying that the book would be found, had the book returned to him by the novice who took it – that novice also reintegrated into the Franciscan order.
The information concluded, saying,
"We invite you to come and ask for St. Anthony’s intercession for more than the loss of material things, but also for loss of faith, family, harmony, health, hope, peace of mind and trust in others."
Want to go?
The two holy relics of St. Anthony of Padua will visit several locations in Nova Scotia throughout the month of November, from Berwick to Yarmouth.
The relics will be in Antigonish Nov. 10, with veneration taking place from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. There will also be a holy vigil mass at 4 p.m.
A young Pope Francis (right), carrying one of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua.