Saint’s relics arrive in Ireland for church tour

RELICS of one of the best loved and admired saints, St Anthony of Padua, have been flown into Ireland for a special tour of churches in Dublin and Carlow.

The remains, contained in a statue of the Franciscan monk, were received at Fairview Church last night by Cardinal Desmond Connell and the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto.

Archbishop Lazzarotto talked about how St Anthony reached out and touched the lives of the poor and needy. He is still very popular in Italy, where he is simply known as The Saint.

Franciscan Conventual friar Fr Xavier Goulet, who helped organise the tour, said he had no idea of what crowds to expect.

Hundreds of thousands of people viewed St Therese’s relics when they were taken on a month-long tour of Ireland in 2001.

Fr Goulet said he felt bad about not being able to bring the relics all over the country but, if he did that, the time taken to transport the remains would reduce the time people would have to see them.

St Anthony was born in Portugal in 1195 and died in Italy on June 13 1231, where he spent most of his short life.

He first joined the Augustinian Order and then left it and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when he was 26 years old, following the martyrdom of five Franciscans in 1220 in Morocco.

The missionaries’ headless and mutilated bodies had been brought to St Anthony’s monastery on their way back for burial. He, too, had hoped to shed his own blood and become a martyr but only lived for 10 years after joining the Franciscans.

Fr Goulet said St Anthony was a great preacher during a period when the Catholic Church was going through a tough time.

There was a decline in moral values and principles and the saint spent a lot of time trying to get people to come back to their faith.

In 1946 St Anthony was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII because of the simple way in which he taught the gospel to the illiterate and the innocent.

Fr Goulet said that Saint Anthony became famous for finding things, a reputation which developed because of a story about a novice who had stolen his prayer book.

“As Anthony prayed the novice felt so guilty he brought the book back to him. It seems people now pray to him to help them find things,” Fr Goulet said.

Details of the tour are available on the Catholic Communications Office’s website at www.catholiccommunications.ie.

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