FALL RIVER—From Monday, August 26 to Saturday, August 31, two first-class and precious relics of the Portuguese-born saint, St. Anthony of Padua, will tour the Diocese of Fall River.
Conventual Franciscan Father Alessandro Ratti will bring the holy relics from the saint’s Basilica, St. Anthony of Padua, in Padua, Italy. Father Alex, as he is known, is one of 54 priests of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual who minister in the Basilica where the saint is buried.
The two exquisite reliquaries, one of which contains layers of skin of the saint’s cheek and the other a fragment of his floating rib, have been venerated by Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, St. Mother Teresa, St. John Paul II and Servant of God, Sister Lucia of Fatima.
The relics will be on display for veneration at the following parishes:
- Monday, August 26, at St. Anthony Church, 167 East Falmouth Highway, East Falmouth; Msgr. Stephen J. Avila, pastor.
Veneration begins at 5 p.m., with Mass at 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, August 27, at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, 327 Second Street, Fall River; Father Thomas Washburn, rector.
Mass will be celebrated at 12 noon to welcome the two relics and veneration begins after the midday Mass, with a concluding Mass at 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, August 28, at St. Anthony Church, 22 Barstow Street, Mattapoisett; Father John C. Ozug, pastor.
Mass at 8 a.m., Veneration after the Mass until 1:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, August 28, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 235 North Front Street, New Bedford; Father Conrad Salach, O.F.M. Conv, pastor.
Veneration at 5 p.m., Mass at 7 p.m.
- Thursday, August 29, at St. Francis Xavier Church, 125 Main Street, Acushnet; Father Riley Williams, pastor.
Mass at 9 a.m., followed by Veneration until 12 noon
- Thursday, August 29, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 1359 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford; Father Octavio Cortez, I.V.E., pastor.
Veneration begins at 6 p.m., with Mass at 7 p.m.
- Friday, August 30, at St. Anthony Chapel, 35 Gault Road, West Wareham; Father Antonio L. da Silva, S.D.V., pastor;
Veneration at 4 p.m., Mass at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, August 31, at St. Anthony Church, 126 School Street, Taunton; Father Freddie Babiczuk, pastor.
Veneration begins at 2 p.m., Vigil Mass at 4 p.m.
According to Friar Mario Conte, the executive editor of the Messenger of St. Anthony, a magazine written, published and printed by the Franciscan Friars in Padua for the English-speaking world, “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. In recognizing that only God performs miracles, it is through the communion of saints that we are brought closer to Our Lord.”
In an address in Cologne, Germany on Aug. 18, 2005, Pope Benedict Emeritus said of relics, “By inviting us to venerate the mortal remains of the martyrs and saints, the Church does not forget that, in the end, these are indeed just human bones, but they are bones that belonged to individuals touched by the living power of God. The relics of the saints are traces of that invisible but real presence which sheds light upon the shadows of the world and reveals the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst.”
Prayer petitions with holy cards will be distributed in each parish to allow parishioners to write their prayer petition and intentions to the saint. Veneration is touching the reliquaries with the prayer petition and religious objects such as Rosary beads, holy cards, medals and crosses, to name a few. The writing of a prayer petition is a worldwide tradition when venerating a relic of a saint.
Father Alex will bring the petitions back to the Pontifical Basilica in Padua and place them at the tomb of St. Anthony. The tour officially ends back at the Tomb of St. Anthony where the Friars will gather to pray for the saint’s intercession upon our intentions and petitions.
St. Anthony of Padua was a Portuguese Catholic friar belonging to the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised in a wealthy family in Lisbon. He died in 1231 and was buried in a little church outside the walls of the town of Padua. He was canonized within a year after his death, the shortest time in the history of the Church. His remains are now kept in the Basilica in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his preaching and expert knowledge of Scripture, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.