St. Anthony of Padua relics to tour
Fall River Diocese in August


FALL RIVER, Mass. — From Monday, August 26 to Saturday, August 31, two first-class and precious relics of the Portuguese-born saint, St. Anthony of Padua, will tour the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River.  

At the invitation of Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D., Father Alessandro Ratti will bring the holy relics from the saint’s Basilica, St. Anthony of Padua, in Padua, Italy, near the enchanting city of Venice. The two exquisite reliquaries, one of which contains layers of skin of the saint’s cheek and the other a fragment of his floating rib, were venerated by Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, St. Mother Teresa, St. John Paul II and Servant of God, Sister Lucia of Fatima.  Tom Muscatello, North America Representative, will accompany Friar Ratti. 

The relics will be on display for veneration at the following parishes:

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•  Monday, August 26 at St. Anthony Church, 167 East Falmouth Highway, East Falmouth; Msgr. Stephen J. Avila, pastor. 
Veneration begins at 5 p.m., with Holy Mass at 7 p.m.;

•  Tuesday, August 27 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, 327 Second Street, Fall River; Father Thomas Washburn, rector.
Holy Mass will be celebrated at 12 noon to welcome the two relics and veneration begins after the midday Mass, with a concluding Mass at 7 p.m.;

•  Wednesday, August 28 at St. Anthony Church, 22 Barstow Street, Mattapoisett; Father John C. Ozug, pastor.
Holy Mass at 8 a.m., Veneration after the Mass until 1:30 p.m.;

•  Wednesday, August 28 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 235 North Front Street, New Bedford; Father Conrad Salach, O.F.M. Conv, pastor.
Veneration at 5 p.m., Holy Mass at 7 p.m.;

•  Thursday, August 29 at St. Francis Xavier Church, 125 Main Street, Acushnet; Father Riley Williams, pastor.
Holy Mass at 9 a.m., followed by Veneration until 12 noon;

•  Thursday, August 29 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 1359 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford; Father Octavio Cortez, I.V.E., pastor.
Veneration begins at 6 p.m., with Holy Mass at 7 p.m.;

•  Friday, August 30 at St. Anthony Chapel, 35 Gault Road, West Wareham; Father Antonio L. da Silva, S.D.V., pastor;
Veneration at 4 p.m., Holy Mass at 7 p.m.;

•  Saturday, August 31 at St. Anthony Church, 126 School Street, Taunton; Father Freddie Babiczuk, pastor.
Veneration begins at 2 p.m. Vigil, with Mass at 4 p.m.

Father Alex, as he is known in English-speaking countries, is one of 54 Franciscan OFM Conventual Friars who minister in the Pontifical Basilica in Padua, where the saint is buried. 

As St. John Paul II tells us, “The most beautiful and stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus, Who is the only One Who gives real meaning to our lives.” Pope Francis shared, “The saints give us a message. They tell us: be faithful to the Lord, because the Lord does not disappoint! He does not disappoint ever, and He is a good friend always at our side.” 

According to Friar Mario Conte, the executive editor of the Messenger of St. Anthony, a magazine written, published and printed by the Franciscan Friars in Padua for the English-speaking world, “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. In recognizing that only God performs miracles, it is through the communion of saints that we are brought closer to Our Lord.” 

In an address in Cologne, Germany on Aug. 18, 2005, Pope Benedict Emeritus said of relics, “By inviting us 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.”

Prayer petitions with holy cards will be distributed in each parish to allow parishioners to write their prayer petition and intentions to the saint. Veneration is touching the reliquaries with the prayer petition and religious objects such as Rosary beads, holy cards, medals and crosses, to name a few. The writing of a prayer petition is a worldwide tradition when venerating a relic of a saint. 

Father Alex will bring the petitions back to the Pontifical Basilica in Padua and place them at the tomb of St. Anthony. The tour officially ends back at the Tomb of St. Anthony where the Friars will gather to pray for the saint’s intercession upon our intentions and petitions.A 24-hour, 365-day-a-year live webcam of the tomb can be viewed online at: www.santantonio.org/en/basilica.

St. Anthony of Padua was a Portuguese Catholic friar belonging to the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised in a wealthy family in Lisbon. He died in 1231 and was canonized within a year after his death, the shortest time in the history of the Church. His remains are kept in the Basilica in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his preaching and expert knowledge of Scripture, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946. 

St. Anthony died on June 13 in 1231. He was buried in a little church outside the walls of the town of Padua. According to the Gregorian calendar, June 13, 1231, was a Friday. St. Anthony was buried the following Tuesday, June 17, 1231, at Santa Maria Mater Domini. It is for this reason why the nine-day and 13-day St. Anthony novenas are always recited on a Tuesday. 

In 1263, his remains were transferred to the newly-constructed basilica which is part of the present-day basilica. Because of miracle activity for 32 years around the saint’s tomb, the Minister General of the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor, Rev. Giovanni Di Fidanza, made the decision to open the saint’s coffin. Friar Di Fidanza later became St. Bonaventure. When St. Anthony’s coffin was opened in St. Bonaventure’s presence, bones and ashes were found. However, the saint’s vocal apparatus was found to be intact and his tongue was still red and soft. At the sight of the miracle, St. Bonaventure exclaimed in awe: “Oh blessed tongue, that ever praised the Lord, and led others to praise Him! Now it is clear how great are your merits before God!”  

St. Anthony of Padua is known to millions of Catholics for lost items. St. Anthony’s reputation as a finder of lost things dates to an incident in the saint’s life. As the legend goes, a novice who had grown tired of religious life decided to leave the Franciscan community. But before leaving, the novice took St. Anthony’s psalter. The book was very important to Anthony, especially since it was before the printing press had been invented. The psalter had notes and comments he made in teaching his students in the Franciscan order. 

Anthony prayed that the psalter would be found and returned to him. Anthony’s prayers were answered: The novice returned the psalter and returned to the order. 

All are invited to come and ask for St. Anthony’s intercession for more than the loss of material things, but also for the loss of faith, family harmony, health, hope, peace of mind and trust in others.


© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts