Mangaluru : Saint Anthony’s Annual Feast will be celebrated on 13 June 2015 at St Anthony’s Charity institutes Chapel, and also at Milagres Church. Triduum have started since 10th, 11th and Friday, 12th June being the final day. Mass and Novenas are held at 8.15 am and 6pm at the St Anthony’s Shrine-Milagres church. On the St Anthony’s Feast Day on Saturday, 13 June 8.15 am: Mass and Novena will be held at Milagres Church-Special prayers for the aged and ailing. There will be a mass and Novena on the same day at St Anthony’s Charity Institutes Chapel at 11.30 am for the 400 plus inmates of the institute-Fr Denis Moras Prabhu- Vicar General of Mangalore Diocese will celebrate mass along with other clergy. At 3 pm there will be mass in Malayalam at Milagres Church, and 6 pm, Mass and Novena at Milagres Church -Main celebrant will be Most Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza.
I still remember those days, when I was studying at St Aloysius College, and as part of CLC and AICUF we used to visit St Anthony’s Poor Homes located near Jeppu and interact with the destitute and the disabled there, distribute food and fruits to them, and also entertain them with music and skit- that was during the 80s and 90s. When I visited this place couple days ago I was surprised to see the enormous progress, and the Director Fr Onil D’Souza was kind enough to take me around and show the various homes, and buildings in the premises.
At this ashram, Saint Anthony’s solidarity has reached out to those who need it most. Although St Anthony has left the world with a great legacy of teachings, and has set the priests a glorious example of charity, of what it means to be there for the poorest of the poor. The Priests and the management at St Anthony’s Charity Institutes are daily engaged in the task of practicing this great mission which the Saint has enjoined upon them: to spread the Gospel and to practice Charity.
Thanks to the dear donors, St Anthony’s Charity Institutes have reached greater heights in serving the destitute and disabled. The Institutes assist those suffering loneliness and deprivation – In the Saint’s name, they reach out to the remotest, most forsaken everywhere, forsaken even by hope itself. This has been made possible through the solidarity of countless friends. At the heart of each project is Saint Anthony’s driving force. This is why they act with the will to promote the well-being of every person, to restore them dignity and the power to forge a brighter future for themselves.
Saint Anthony is known for his thirteen miracles. But everyday he performs a number of miracles for his devotees. Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes, Jeppu is a living proof to his miracles. Saint Anthony provides shelter and peaceful living at the Institutes to four hundred destitute who are unwanted in the society. If this is not a miracle what else is ? Saint Anthony does this miracle through his devotees. Everyone is welcome to join hands in carrying forward this miracle.
A Miracle in itself…….. at Milagres Church: Though it is not quite possible to pinpoint exactly when it all started, a feast was being annually celebrated in honour of St Anthony on the 13th of June for several years at the Altar of St Anthony in the Church of Our Lady of Miracles, Milagres, Mangalore. However, there were no other special devotions as such in his honour.
All those who came to the feet of St Anthony never returned empty handed. Even to this day thousands come to him seeking his favour and no one goes back disappointed. It was on 12 June 1898 Msgr M. P. Colaco the then Asst Vicar at Milagres Church started novena to Saint Anthony. On the following day 13 June the feast of Saint Anthony was celebrated solemnly. Thereafter, Msgr Colaco started celebrating Holy Mass every Tuesday at the altar of the Saint and conducted novena prayers. The response from the people was beyond all expectations. Not only the parishioners of Milagres, but many faithful from other parishes in and around Mangalore and even from places beyond the town limits, began to flock to these Tuesday devotions.
St Anthony’s Poor Homes : The devotees of St Anthony used to make their ‘Thanksgiving Offering’ in cash and kind with a grateful heart for the favours received through the intercession of St Anthony. The collection made through such offerings was used initially in the form of ‘Almsgiving’ to feed the poor, the sick and the destitute and wipe away their tears. Thus began the work of ‘Saint Anthony’s Bread ’ in Mangalore. In the year 1911 some houses were put up near Milagres Church to accommodate the waifs, the orphans, the old and the disabled and those who had no one take care of. These houses were known as St Anthony’s Poor Homes”.
It is said that during the two World Wars, when there was extreme scarcity of food, hundreds of poor used to wait in long queues at the Milagres Church to satiate their hunger and ‘St Anthony’s Bread’ provided meals for all of them. As the need to house the destitute increased and the space available in the city was limited, 28 acres of land belonging to the Brittos at Jeppu was purchased in an auction for Rs.45,000 in 1934. In 1936 the Saint Anthony’s Poor Homes were shifted from Milagres to this place, presently known as Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes. At the moment 400 destitutes (residents) live at the Institutes. Those once admitted are taken care of till they complete their journey of this earthly life. All their needs are met free of cost.
This place is indeed a “Home Away from Home” – How beautiful it is to see them living as brothers and sisters ! From 1899 the feast of the Relic (tongue) of St Anthony began to be celebrated on 15 February. The beautiful statue of the Saint now adorning the altar of the shrine was blessed by Pope Leo XIII and brought all the way from Italy in 1900 and installed in 1902.
The medical needs of the residents are met with the support of Fr Muller Hospital, Kankanady and the Wenlock District Hospital, Mangaluru. Tasty and nutritious food is cooked in the central kitchen and from there it is distributed to different houses. Thrice a day all the residents come together for community prayer and to pray for the intentions of our benefactors. People have great faith in the intercessory prayers of our residents. Every day we receive a number of requests for prayers and the residents pray for them. To their beloved Saint, the residents are very dear and he hears them faster, so they say.
The residents are involved in many activities. The vegetables and fruits grown here with the help of the residents are harvested throughout the year and are used for their consumption. The Institutes provide opportunities to our residents to make use of their talents and abilities. As they make use of their skills they feel they are productive. Candles and funeral coffins are also made by the residents. Apart from agriculture, the residents also take care of few cows which provide milk for their daily use. Retreats and novenas are also held in regular basis.
Speaking to me Fr Onil said, “Saint Anthony of Padua died in the year 1231. In 1263 thirty two years after his death when his grave was opened the assembled gathering had a surprise. Though the body of the Saint had turned into dust the tongue was fresh. Seeing this miracle Saint Bonaventure the then General of Franciscans said, “O Blessed Tongue! that always blessed the Lord and made others bless and praise Him; it is now manifest what great merits thou dost posses in the sight of God”. The fresh tongue of Saint Anthony is still fresh even after 800 years of his earthly life and is kept in the Basilica at Padua in Italy. A feast is being celebrated in honour of this Relic(tongue) of Saint Anthony”.
“Saint Anthony always used the gift of speech to praise God. He also used the power of his speech to preach the Word of God because of which many people who had deserted faith came back to the Catholic Church. He also used the faculty of his speech to perform many miracles but he did it for others. The in-corrupt tongue of Saint Anthony is a miracle bestowed on him by the Almighty for the miracles he had performed for others. There is message for all in this miracle. The message is– make use of the tongue to praise God and to build good relationship with the people around us. Never abuse it to pain others” added Fr Onil..
Concluding he said, ” Since the inception of Shrine of Saint Anthony at Milagres in 1898 scores of people irrespective of their religious affiliation have come to the feet of Saint Anthony and have obtained innumerable favours. And there is a belief that Saint Anthony doesn’t fail his devotees. Even now people in India and abroad ask us to pray for their various needs. As we celebrate this feast we invoke numerous Blessings of Almighty through the powerful intercession of Saint Anthony out Patron Saint. Happy Feast to all the devotees of Saint Anthony”.
A new altar dedicated to St Antony of Padua was inaugurated by Monsignor Denis Moras Prabhu at Milagres church on June 2, 2015. This altar with the old statue just outside the church has been renovated and extended.
I end this column with a Unfailing Prayer to St Anthony:
“Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.” O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, you love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore of you to obtain for me (state request here). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle, even so, you are the Saint of Miracles.
O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the Sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen. (Then say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be)
St Anthony’s Shrine- Milagres Devotion: Every Tuesday Mass at 8:15 a.m and 6:00 p.m followed by Novena.
You could send your petitions / offerings to:
The Director-Saint Anthony’s Charity Institutes, Jeppu, Mangalore 575 002. Karnataka, India.
Please Note: Cheques, Demand Drafts or Money Orders to be made in favour of “ Saint Anthony’s Charity Institute” or Direct Deposit:
Name of bank: State Bank of India, Branch: Kankanady
A/C No: 10391581108. IFSC CODE SBIN0003300.
Address: St Antony’s charity institutes, Post box 506 Mangalore-575002. Tel: 0824-2418065.
About St. Anthony of Padua:
St. Anthony of Padua is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. Saint Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost and stolen articles, was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher. He’s typically portrayed holding the child Jesus—or a lily—or a book—or all three—in his arms. Many people give alms to St. Anthony Bread in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony.
St. Anthony of Padua’s life is what every Christian’s life is meant to be; a steady courage to face the ups and downs of life, the call to love and forgive, to be concerned for the needs of others, to deal with crisis great and small, and to have our feet solidly on the ground of total trusting love and dependence on God.
St Anthony is beloved throughout the world and is responsive to all people and all needs. His intercessory powers before our God are awesome. Legends about Anthony abound. But let’s turn to the known facts about him. Anthony was born in 1195 (13 years after St. Francis) in Lisbon, Portugal and given the name of Fernando at Baptism. His parents, Martin and Mary Bulhom, apparently belonged to one of the prominent families of the city.
At the age of 15 he entered the religious order of St. Augustine. Monastery life was hardly peaceful for young Fernando, nor conducive to prayer and study, as his old friends came to visit frequently and engaged in vehement political discussions. After two years he was sent to Coimbra. There he began nine years of intense study, learning the Augustinian theology that he would later combine with the Franciscan vision. Fernando was probably ordained a priest during this time.
The life of the young priest took a crucial turn when the bodies of the first five Franciscan martyrs were returned from Morocco. They had preached in the mosque in Seville, almost being martyred at the outset, but the sultan allowed them to pass on to Morocco, where, after continuing to preach Christ despite repeated warnings, they were tortured and beheaded. Now, in the presence of the queen and a huge crowd, their remains were carried in solemn procession to Fernando’s monastery
He was overjoyed and inspired to a momentous decision. He went to the little friary in Coimbra and said, “Brother, I would gladly put on the habit of your Order if you would promise to send me as soon as possible to the land of the Saracens, that I may gain the crown of the holy martyrs.” After some challenges from the prior of the Augustinians, he was allowed to leave that priory and receive the Franciscan habit, taking the name Anthony.
True to their promise, the Franciscans allowed Anthony to go to Morocco, to be a witness for Christ, and a martyr as well. But, as often happens, the gift he wanted to give was not the gift that was to be asked of him. He became seriously ill, and after several months realized he had to go home.
He never arrived. His ship ran into storms and high winds and was blown east across the Mediterranean. Months later he arrived on the east coast of Sicily. The friars at nearby Messina, though they didn’t know him, welcomed him and began nursing him back to health. Still ailing, he wanted to attend the great Pentecost Chapter of Mats (so called because the 3,000 friars could not be housed and slept on mats). Francis was there, also sick. History does not reveal any meeting between Francis and Anthony.
Since the young man was from “out of town,” he received no assignment at the meeting, so he asked to go with a provincial superior from northern Italy. “Instruct me in the Franciscan life,” he asked, not mentioning his prior theological training. Now, like Francis, he had his first choice—a life of seclusion and contemplation in a hermitage near Montepaolo.
Perhaps we would never have heard of Anthony if he hadn’t gone to an ordination of Dominicans and Franciscans in 1222. As they gathered for a meal afterward, the provincial suggested that one of the friars give a short sermon. Quite typically, everybody ducked. So Anthony was asked to give “just something simple,” since he presumably had no education. Anthony too demurred, but finally began to speak in a simple, artless way. The fire within him became evident. His knowledge was unmistakable, but his holiness was what really impressed everyone there.
Now he was exposed. His quiet life of prayer and penance at the hermitage was exchanged for that of a public preacher. Francis heard of Anthony’s previously hidden gifts, and Anthony was assigned to preach in northern Italy. The problem with many preachers in Anthony’s day was that their life-style contrasted sharply with that of the poor people to whom they preached. In our experience, it could be compared to an evangelist arriving in a slum driving a Mercedes, delivering a homily from his car and speeding off to a vacation resort. Anthony saw that words were obviously not enough. He had to show gospel poverty. People wanted more than self-disciplined, even penitent priests. They wanted genuineness of gospel living. And in Anthony they found it. They were moved by who he was, more than what he said.
Despite his efforts, not everyone listened. Legend has it that one day, faced with deaf ears; Anthony went to the river and preached to the fishes. That, reads the traditional tale, got everyone’s attention. Anthony traveled tirelessly in both northern Italy and southern France—perhaps 400 trips—choosing to enter the cities where the heretics were strongest. Yet the sermons he has left behind rarely show him taking direct issue with the heretics. As the historian Clasen interprets it, Anthony preferred to present the grandeur of Christianity in positive ways. It was no good to prove people wrong: Anthony wanted to win them to the right, the healthiness of real sorrow and conversion, the wonder of reconciliation with a loving Father.
Public Preacher, Franciscan Teacher
Anthony’s superior, St. Francis, was cautious about education such as his protégé possessed. He had seen too many theologians taking pride in their sophisticated knowledge. Still, if the friars had to hit the roads and preach to all sorts of people, they needed a firm grounding in Scripture and theology. So, when he heard the glowing report of Anthony’s debut at the ordinations, Francis wrote in 1224, “;It pleases me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, provided that in such studies they do not destroy the spirit of holy prayer and devotedness, as contained in the Rule.”
Anthony first taught in a friary in Bologna, which became a famous school. The theology book of the time was the Bible. In one extant sermon by the saint, there are at least 183 passages from Scripture. While none of his theological conferences and discussions were written down, we do have two volumes of his sermons: Sunday Sermons and Feastday Sermons. His method included much of allegory and symbolical explanation of Scripture.
Anthony continued to preach as he taught the friars and assumed more responsibility within the Order. In 1226 he was appointed provincial superior of northern Italy, but still found time for contemplative prayer in a small hermitage. Around Easter in 1228 (he was only 33 years old), while in Rome, he met Pope Gregory IX, who had been a faithful friend and adviser of St. Francis. Naturally, the famous preacher was invited to speak. He did it humbly, as always. The response was so great that people later said that it seemed the miracle of Pentecost was repeated.
Padua Enters the Picture
Padua, Italy is a short distance west of Venice. At the time of Anthony, it was one of the most important cities in the country, with an important university for the study of civil and canon law. Sometimes Anthony left Padua for greater solitude. He went to a place loved by Francis—LaVerna, where Francis received the wounds of Jesus. He also found a grotto near the friary where he could pray in solitude.
In poor health, and still provincial superior of northern Italy, he went to the General Chapter in Rome and asked to be relieved of his duties. But he was later recalled as part of a special commission to discuss certain matters of the Franciscan Rule with the pope.
Back in Padua, he preached his last and most famous Lenten sermons. The crowds were so great—sometimes 30,000—that the churches could not hold them, so he went into the piazzas or the open fields. People waited all night to hear him. He needed a bodyguard to protect him from the people armed with scissors who wanted to snip off a piece of his habit as a relic. After his morning Mass and sermon, he would hear confessions. This sometimes lasted all day—as did his fasting.
The great energy he had expended during the Lent of 1231 left him exhausted. He went to a little town near Padua, but seeing death coming close, he wanted to return to the city that he loved. The journey in a wagon weakened him so much, however, that he had to stop at Arcella. He had to bless Padua from a distance, as Francis had blessed Assisi.
At Arcella, he received the last sacraments, sang and prayed with the friars there. When one of them asked Anthony what he was staring at so intently, he answered, “I see my Lord!” He died in peace a short time after that. He was only 36 and had been a Franciscan but 10 years.
The following year, his friend, Pope Gregory IX, moved by the many miracles that occurred at Anthony’s tomb, declared him a saint. Anthony was a simple and humble friar who preached the Good News lovingly and with fearless courage. The youth whom his fellow friars thought was uneducated became one of the great preachers and theologians of his day. He was a man of great penance and apostolic zeal. But he was primarily a saint of the people.
Franciscan Father Leonard Foley (1913-1994) author of Saint of the Day and, many other books, and articles for Catholic Update, Youth Update and St. Anthony Messenger. An expanded version of the above appears in Saint Anthony of Padua: The Story of His Life and Popular Devotions, published by St. Anthony Messenger Press.
Miracles and Traditions of St Anthony
The reason for invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things is traced back to an incident in his own life. As the story goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that was very important to him. Besides the value of any book before the invention of printing, the psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order.
A novice who had already grown tired of living religious life decided to depart the community. Besides going AWOL he also took Anthony’s psalter! Upon realizing his psalter was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned to him. And after his prayer the thieving novice was moved to return the psalter to Anthony and to return to the Order, which accepted him back. Legend has embroidered this story a bit. It has the novice stopped in his flight by a horrible devil, brandishing an ax and threatening to trample him underfoot if he did not immediately return the book. Obviously a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.
In any event, shortly after his death people began praying through Anthony to find or recover lost and stolen articles. And the Responsory of St. Anthony composed by his contemporary, Julian of Spires, O.F.M., proclaims, “The sea obeys and fetters break/And lifeless limbs thou dost restore/While treasures lost are found again/When young or old thine aid implore.”
St Anthony Bread is a term used for offerings made in thanksgiving to God for blessings received through the prayers of St. Anthony. Sometimes the alms are given for the education of priests. In some places parents also make a gift for the poor after placing a newborn child under the protection of St. Anthony. It is a practice in some churches to bless small loaves of bread on the feast of St. Anthony and give them to those who want them.
Different legends or stories account for the donation of what is called St. Anthony Bread. By at least one account it goes back to 1263, when it is said a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer and promise were rewarded with the boy’s return to life.
Another reason for the practice is traced back to Louise Bouffier, a shopkeeper inToulon, France. A locksmith was prepared to break open her shop door after no key would open it. Bouffier asked the locksmith to try his keys one more time after she prayed and promised to give bread to the poor in honor of St. Anthony if the door would open without force. The door then opened. After others received favors through the intercession of St. Anthony, they joined Louise Bouffier in founding the charity of St. Anthony Bread.
St Anthony and the Child Jesus
St Anthony has been pictured by artists and sculptors in all kinds of ways. He is depicted with a book in his hands, with a lily or torch. He has been painted preaching to fish, holding a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in front of a mule or preaching in the public square or from a nut tree.
But since the 17th century we most often find the saint shown with the child Jesus in his arm or even with the child standing on a book the saint holds. A story about St. Anthony related in the complete edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints (edited, revised and supplemented by Herbert Anthony Thurston, S.J., and Donald Attwater) projects back into the past a visit of Anthony to the Lord of Chatenauneuf. Anthony was praying far into the night when suddenly the room was filled with light more brilliant than the sun. Jesus then appeared to St. Anthony under the form of a little child. Chatenauneuf, attracted by the brilliant light that filled his house, was drawn to witness the vision but promised to tell no one of it until after St. Anthony’s death.
Some may see a similarity and connection between this story and the story in the life of St. Francis when he reenacted at Greccio the story of Jesus, and the Christ Child became alive in his arms. There are other accounts of appearances of the child Jesus to Francis and some companions.
These stories link Anthony with Francis in a sense of wonder and awe concerning the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. They speak of a fascination with the humility and vulnerability of Christ who emptied himself to become one like us in all things except sin. For Anthony, like Francis, poverty was a way of imitating Jesus who was born in a stable and would have no place to lay his head.
In Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. According to some biographers his statue is sometimes placed in a shrine on the ship’s mast. And the sailors sometimes scold him if he doesn’t respond quickly enough to their prayers.
Not only those who travel the seas but also other travelers and vacationers pray that they may be kept safe because of Anthony’s intercession. Several stories and legends may account for associating the saint with travelers and sailors.
First, there is the very real fact of Anthony’s own travels in preaching the gospel, particularly his journey and mission to preach the gospel in Morocco, a mission cut short by severe illness. But after his recovery and return to Europe, he was a man always on the go, heralding the Good News.
There is also a story of two Franciscan sisters who wished to make a pilgrimage to a shrine of our Lady but did not know the way. A young man is supposed to have volunteered to guide them. Upon their return from the pilgrimage one of the sisters announced that it was her patron saint, Anthony, who had guided them.
Still another story says that in 1647 Father Erastius Villani of Padua was returning by ship to Italy from Amsterdam. The ship with its crew and passengers was caught in a violent storm. All seemed doomed. Father Erastius encouraged everyone to pray to St. Anthony. Then he threw some pieces of cloth that had touched a relic of St. Anthony into the heaving seas. At once, the storm ended, the winds stopped and the sea became calm.
Teacher, Preacher, Doctor of the Scriptures
Among the Franciscans themselves and in the liturgy of his feast, St. Anthony is celebrated as a teacher and preacher extraordinaire. He was the first teacher in the Franciscan Order, given the special approval and blessing of St. Francis to instruct his brother Franciscans. His effectiveness as a preacher calling people back to the faith resulted in the title “Hammer of Heretics.” Just as important were his peacemaking and calls for justice.
In canonizing Anthony in 1232, Pope Gregory IX spoke of him as the “Ark of the Testament” and the “Repository of Holy Scripture.” That explains why St. Anthony is frequently pictured with a burning light or a book of the Scriptures in his hands. In 1946 Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Universal Church. It is in Anthony“s love of the word of God and his prayerful efforts to understand and apply it to the situations of everyday life that the Church especially wants us to imitate St. Anthony. While noting in the prayer of his feast Anthony’s effectiveness as an intercessor, the Church wants us to learn from Anthony, the teacher, the meaning of true wisdom and what it means to become like Jesus, who humbled and emptied himself for our sake and went about doing good.