Thousands flock to see relics of St Anthony

Thousands of worshippers have flocked to see the relics of one of Ireland’s best-loved saints.

Thousands of worshippers have flocked to see the relics of one of Ireland’s best-loved saints.

Many queued for around an hour to kiss the golden statue containing the remains of St Anthony, the patron of lost things.

Outside one north Dublin church gardaí were called to control traffic gridlock caused by crowds of people hoping to spend a moment with the saint.

Dorothy O’Connor, of Kilkenny, was among those who queued at St Anthony’s church in Clontarf.

“It was gorgeous,” she said. “St Anthony finds everything for me. He gives me parking spaces and everything. I always pray to him.”

Ann Kelly, of Killiney, south Dublin, visited the relics with her husband and two daughters.

“I have great faith in St Anthony. A few years ago I lost my engagement ring while on holiday. I prayed to St Anthony and straight away I found it in a little cloth under the dressing table.

“A lot of things like that have happened. It’s nice to have somebody to turn to.”

The Italian Franciscan monk died in 1232 and is famed for finding lost things.

He is reported to have completed a number of miracles during his life. He is said to have made poisoned food harmless by making the sign of the cross, and rejoined a young boy’s amputated foot.

The saint’s relics were flown into Dublin on Friday and were brought to church by a garda escort.

The nine-day tour of Dublin and Carlow is the first time they have been viewed in public in Ireland.

Italian friar Father Mario Conte is accompanying the relics and has travelled around the world displaying them to worshippers.

He said he had travelled as far as Canada, Albania, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Australia and the Philippines with the saint.

“I’ve been everywhere with St Anthony,” he said.

“Each country has its own way of expressing their emotion for him.

“St Anthony even visited death row at a prison in the Philippines,” he said.

He said that during the first few hours of Saturday more than 2,000 Irish people queued to pay their respects to the saint.

Many brought white lilies – which St Anthony is always seen holding in pictures and statues.

“We are very astonished that he has so many fans around the world,” Father Conte said. “He is a very modern saint.

“Anthony listens to us and when people pray to him they feel their prayers are answered.”

He said many people prayed to him for good health, or when they were worried they may lose their job.

“I’m just his travelling companion,” added Father Conte. “But many people come up to me and tell me ways St Anthony has helped them.

“The most amazing story was one a lady in Rome told me.

“She was a little girl and her brother was dying of typhoid. He was declared dead and the priest was about to close the coffin but she begged him not to.

“She put a card of St Anthony under the cushion of the coffin and the little boy came to life.

“It was a very shocking experience. She felt her prayers had been answered.”

The saint’s tour of Ireland will finish in Dublin on Friday, the day of the Feast of St Anthony.

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