A wish granted

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By Luci Lizares


Thursday, June 12, 2014

TOMORROW, June 13, is the feast of San Antonio de Padua. There will be Fiesta Masses at 6 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Shrine in Talisay.

I have this long standing friendship with San Antonio de Padua. It all started when I would look in my Mom’s side table drawer and would find novenas of the saint. My Mom was an Our Lady of Perpetual Help devotee and wears the blue habit with the red and blue cord whenever she attends Mass. So asking her why these novenas of St. Anthony, she replied that her Mom, Andrea Sarmiento Armstrong, was a staunch devotee.

In the Sacred Heart Shrine, a stone’s throw away from my home, is this larger than life image of San Antonio. In the year 2000, I approached Fr. Rolly Albert Escubido, then rector of the Sacred Heart Shrine and Seminary, if we could have Tuesday novenas dedicated to the saint. The Tuesday novenas are ongoing up to this day and during his feast, June 13, together with other friends and followers of San Antonio, we prettify the church with lilies, celebrate Mass with an offering of bread, and at the end of the holy commemoration distribute these to the faithful.


Last September, my wish was granted when I was able to go for the day to Padua. It is just an hour away from Venice by train. After traversing through countryside and small villages, Hello Padua! Perhaps, this is really God’s plan that we made the trip this year because as we approached the Church, we saw a huge tarpaulin in the Pontifical Basilica of San Antonio de Padua announcing that it was the 750th Jubilee Year of San Antonio de Padua’s Incorrupt Tongue.

Visited by millions of pilgrims each year from all over the world, the locals call it “il Santo.” It is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See. St. Anthony was buried in a small chapel near the convent he founded. This chapel has been incorporated to the present basilica.

The Chapel of St. Anthony in the Basilica is a splendid Renaissance work. The walls are lined with scenes and miracles from the life of St. Anthony. In the center is the tomb of St. Anthony. Here, pilgrims are given a chance to touch the tomb and pray their petitions and thanksgiving. At the side are testimonies, pictures and answered prayers through the intercession of St. Anthony.

The Treasury Chapel, in overwhelming Baroque style, is the highlight. Here you find the relics of San Antonio. Much as I wanted to linger longer to pray in each reliquary, there were many pilgrims lining up, too. The chapel has three central niches. The central reliquary in the left niche contains the sesamoid bone, a fragment of the skin, and some hair from the body of St. Anthony.

The tongue of St. Anthony is found in a reliquary in the central niche. Above this is another reliquary where his jaw bone is kept. Further above there is a small silver case in which a fragment of the True Cross is preserved. Just below the reliquary containing St. Anthony’s tongue is another reliquary which houses his vocal chords. The habit of the saint and his coffin completes the treasures in this chapel. Tongue, vocal chords—(sounds a bit gross but) St. Anthony was a great preacher that’s why his tongue and vocal cords are incorrupt.

After some time for prayers, we exited into the gift shop where we bought some rosaries, medals and more souvenirs. My mistake on this trip was I failed to present ourselves as pilgrims from the Philippines because they have a pilgrims’ reception area. Just shows that despite months of preparation, nothing can ever be perfect! But thank you Lord for this blessing! With our pilgrimage accomplished, we walked out of the Basilica euphoric for being here on the year of his 750th Jubilee. Personally, it was a wish granted.

Who is San Antonio de Padua with the incorrupt tongue? Popularly known as the patron saint of lost and stolen articles, he is a Franciscan preacher and teacher. He was the first teacher of the Order who gained the approval of St. Francis himself. Effective as a preacher especially with calling people back to the faith, huge crowds of about 30,000 at times would come to listen to his sermons. On some occasions, he would need a bodyguard to protect him as people would snip of a piece of his habit as a relic with scissors. He would hear confessions after his morning Masses lasting the whole day.

In 1946, the Catholic Church declared him a Doctor of the Universal Church. San Antonio de Padua or St. Anthony’s life was an example of what a Christian life should be: steady courage to face the ups and downs of life, the call to love and forgive, to be concerned for the needs of others and to deal with crisis great and small by total trust and dependence on God.

He is typically portrayed holding the Child Jesus. This picture is taken from an account of the actual witnessing of Lord of Chatenauneuf when he went to visit St Anthony. He noticed that the room of the saint was filled with a brilliant light. Chatenauneuf saw the Child Jesus appearing to St. Anthony. He promised to tell no one until the saint’s death. St. Anthony is also portrayed holding a lily in hand or a book or all three.

After so many years of devotion to the San Antonio, my wish has been finally granted and there I was in the home of my bestfriend-saint these past so many years! My next wish is that the Sacred Heart Shrine can acquire a relic of this powerful saint.

St. Anthony is not merely the saint to run to for lost items. He is a wonder worker and you can ask him for anything from interior strength to guidance, for decisions when lost in the ups and downs of life. He, with all his eloquence, will pray his hardest to our Lord to help you. He has done that for me many times over!

So tomorrow, June 13, see you at the Sacred Heart Shrine!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 12, 2014.


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