Parishes host relics from St. Anthony of Padua

Two women touch a statue holding the relics of St. Anthony of Padua at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston last year when the relics came to Houston. The relics will be in the Austin Diocese Feb. 10-19, see Page 3 for a complete list of where they will be. (CNS photo by James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald)

By Catholic Spirit Staff

Two first-class relics of St. Anthony of Padua will tour parishes in the Diocese of Austin Feb. 10-19. Masses held at the individual parishes will include veneration of the relics (see box on Page 3 for dates and times).
Conventual Franciscan Father Mario Conte, executive editor of the Messenger of St. Anthony magazine in Padua, Italy, will travel with the relics from Padua. One reliquary contains the floating rib of St. Anthony and the other reliquary contains layers of the saint’s skin.
“People really have a strong affection for St. Anthony. It’s almost unbelievable. We call it the ‘Anthonian phenomenon’ –– that there is such a connection with a person who died almost 800 years ago. He’s seen as a friend and a brother,” Father Conte said.
St. Anthony died on June 13, in 1231, and was buried in a small church outside the walls of the town of Padua. In 1263, his remains were transferred to the newly constructed basilica. St. Bonaventure, who at the time was Minister General of the Friars Minor, was present as St. Anthony’s coffin was opened. His bones and ashes were found, however, the saint’s vocal apparatus was found to be intact, and in particular, his tongue was still red and soft.
Franciscans consider this a sign that the saint was a messenger of God’s love whose preaching brought people back to God, Father Conte said.
Interest in relics is not weird, Father Conte said. “We all have relics at home, not body parts, but personal objects that belonged to someone we loved, who is no longer there.”
Father Conte called his late mother’s wedding ring “a link of love and a connection. I feel her next to me when I hold it.”
Saints’ relics help people overcome the abstract and make a connection with the holy, Father Conte said. “As believers, we also need symbols.”
St. Anthony (1195-1231) is a doctor of the church. His feast day is June 13. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, he joined the Augustinians at age 15. In 1220, he entered the Franciscans to become an African missionary and was sent to Morocco.
The saint is known to millions of Catholics as the finder of “lost items.” 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 Saint Anthony’s psalter, which is a book of Psalms. 
“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,” Father Conte said.
During the tour of the relics, participants are invited to ask for St. Anthony’s intercession for not only the loss of material things, but also for those who have lost peace of mind or who have lost a sense of direction. 
“We will pray for his help that we might truly build a just society where no one is left behind, forgotten or lost,” he said.

Tour of St. Anthony relics
  The following parishes will host the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. At each parish participants may submit their prayer petition to the saint, then Father Mario Conte will bring the petitions back to the 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 requests.

Feb. 10: St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Marcos 
Veneration begins at 3 p.m., Mass begins at 7 p.m.
Feb. 11: St. Mary Cathedral in Austin
Veneration is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. Mass begins at noon; Vigil Mass begins at 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 12: St. Mary Cathedral in Austin
Veneration is before and after each Mass. Masses begin at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon, 1:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 13: St. Anthony Parish in Bryan
Veneration begins at 3 p.m.; Mass begins at 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 14: St. Francis on the Brazos Parish in Waco
Veneration begins at 3 p.m.; Mass begins at 7 p.m.
Feb. 15: Sacred Heart Parish in Austin
Veneration begins at 3 p.m.; Mass begins at 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 16: Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Austin
Veneration begins at 11:30 a.m.; Masses begin at noon and 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 17: Christ the King Parish in Belton
Veneration will be held from 3 to 7 p.m.; Mass begins at 5 p.m.
Feb. 18: Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church in Austin
Veneration begins at 12:30 p.m.; Vigil Mass begins at 5 p.m. followed by short period of veneration
Feb. 19: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Austin
All Masses will begin with veneration. Masses begin at 7:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.