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Thousands flock to Padua to see Saint Anthony

Feb 15th, 2010 | By | Category: Italian News

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(ANSA) – Padua, February 15 – Thousands of pilgrims gathered in this northern Italian city before dawn on Monday, hoping for a rare glimpse of the bones of Padua’s hugely popular patron, Saint Anthony. The remains of Anthony, the unofficial saint of lost causes, have gone on show for the first time in 29 years, generating a frenzy of excitement among the Catholic faithful. By the time dawn broke, over 2,000 people were already waiting outside the Basilica of St Anthony, with coaches, trains and cars ferrying hundreds more to the city throughout the day. By late morning, the initial rush had settled down to a steady flow of around 1,000 visitors each hour, said church authorities. More than 100,000 pilgrims are forecast to visit the city during the six days the saint’s bones remain on display. Padua Deputy Mayor Ivo Rossi was among those outside the beautiful 13th-century church when it opened its doors at 8am. ”Padua is celebrating this event and is ready to welcome the faithful with great joy,” he said.

Rossi explained that the city had been preparing for weeks, with special traffic schemes, parking plans and additional shuttle buses laid on to cope with the influx. ”We expect the peak of arrivals to be on Saturday, and kindly ask Paduans and pilgrims to use public transport wherever possible on that day,” he added.

The streets around the site were lined with police and civil protection officers, while volunteers from the Red Cross and religious organizations provided visitors with directions and information. The display of the saint’s bones, last shown in 1981, has been timed to coincide with their transfer from one side of the basilica to the other. The remains, encased in a crystal display case, have been temporarily housed in the San Giacomo Chapel during a restoration but are now returning to their permanent home in the Cappella dell’Arca. St Anthony, who died in 1231, was a Franciscan preacher credited with the power to perform miracles.

He is known as the ”quickest” saint in the history of the Catholic Church because he was canonized less than a year after his death and he remains one of the most popular saints worldwide today. Officially the saint of lost and stolen things, over the centuries he has also become the unofficial patron of ‘lost causes’, making him the focus of thousands of desperate prayers.

According to Catholic tradition, people who have prayed to St Anthony for miraculous cures to their ailments and had their wishes granted thank him for the service by taking votive offerings to his tomb.

These are usually made in tin or silver and represent the part of the body healed. Padua monks have been collecting and cataloguing these tokens since 1466.

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  1. Hello,

    Many thanks for your kind comments about the article on St Anthony, a very loved Saint indeed. Yes, it must have been a very special moment for thousands. Thanks again

    Best wishes
    June Clayton

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