The relics of one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints will visit Galway Cathedral on Tuesday.
Thousands of devotees are expected to turn out to welcome the relics of St Anthony when they tour the country from October 17 to 24. The reception of the relics and Mass will take place at Galway Cathedral at 11am followed by veneration from noon until 5.30pm, Mass will take place at 6pm and veneration again from 7pm to 10pm.
Though he died in 1231 at the age of 35, St Anthony’s popularity has rarely waned over the centuries. He is widely revered as the saint who helps people find lost things or people and his miracles have won him affectionate veneration among Christians and non-Christians alike.
Anthony of Padua, OFM, was a Portuguese Catholic friar belonging to the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised in a wealthy family in Lisbon. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of scripture, he was the second-fastest canonised saint ever in the Church’s history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in January 1946.
He is the patron saint of lost people or things, native Americans, animals, infertility, Brazil, the elderly, fishermen, harvests, horses, the oppressed and poor, Portugal, pregnant women, shipwrecks, and travellers.
Padua-based Greyfriar, Fr Mario Conte, the editor of the Messenger of Saint Anthony, will accompany the relics which comprise a “floating” rib bone and layers of cheek skin.
This relic tour is taking place to mark the 750th anniversary of the discovery of St Anthony’s incorrupt tongue by St Bonaventure.
St Anthony was originally buried at Sancta Maria Mater Domini Church in Padua. His remains were later moved, in 1263, to the current Basilica in the Italian city.
When St Bonaventure, who was head of the Franciscan Order at the time, presided over the opening of Anthony’s coffin, he discovered that the saint’s vocal organs were intact, including his tongue. “Oh blessed tongue, that ever praised the Lord and led others to praise Him!” St Bonaventure exclaimed. The saint had been known as a wonderful preacher of the Gospel.
According to Fr Mario Conte, “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 2013 tour will see the relics visit Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Belfast in Ireland before they cross to Scotland where they will visit Glasgow and Aberdeen. They then continue to Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and London. They are usually kept at the Basilica in Padua.
A number of high profile bishops in Ireland and Britain have already indicated that they will participate in ceremonies associated with the relics.