MANILA, June 15, 2014—A shrine dedicated to the “Wonder-worker of Padua” in Sampaloc, Manila celebrated the feast of its patron Friday, June 13, in a mass attended by hundreds of the faithful, proving that even centuries after his death, St. Anthony’s legacy is alive and well.
In his sermon, Fr. Edgardo C. Coroza, vicar forane of Our Lady of Loreto, exhorted the faithful to follow the example of St. Anthony of Padua who, like his mentor St. Francis of Assisi, lived according to the Gospel.
“He [St. Anthony] had lived a life [that was] fully committed to Jesus, the infant Jesus, the Bible, the Word of God. He had lived a life fully committed to Christ,” Coroza explained.
This Christ-centeredness of St. Anthony, the priest said, explains why artworks often portray him holding the “Santo Niño” in one arm and the Bible in the other.
According to Coroza, serving Christ is important in every Christian community.
Laity called to be saints
While admitting that commitment is a “big word”, he pointed out that, difficult as it may seem, this is what God demands of each believer, clergy and laity alike.
“We are called to be saints…We are sent forth as heroes,” he said, echoing the “Year of the Laity” slogan.
Coroza stressed the supreme importance of lay empowerment, especially in the Philippines where the Church is overwhelmingly lay.
“The Church in the Philippines is the Church of the laity,” he said.
After mass, devotees were each given the traditional “St. Anthony bread”.
A relic of the saint was also taken out for public veneration.
Religious items inspired by the saint like “estampitas”, framed pictures, statuettes, and St. Anthony novenas and chaplets sold like hotcakes.
St. Anthony, 1195-1231
Famously remembered today as the patron saint of lost articles and people, Anthony of Padua, who was the most learned and eloquent Franciscan preacher of his time, also worked miracles and fought heresies.
Legend tells of him preaching to fishes when heretics would not accept the Gospel.
Initially an Augustinian, then Fernando Martins joined the Order of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) after an encounter with the martyred Franciscans from Morocco touched him to the core.
Renamed Antonio to highlight his conversion, he vowed to die for the faith, but never saw martyrdom. God had other plans for him.
A talented theologian and evangelist, he found himself using his gifts to spreading God’s word in an age fraught with religious errors and corruption in the Church hierarchy.
Working himself to death, Anthony died at 36 on June 13, 1231. His last words were: “I see my Lord.”
Just a year later in 1232, he was “raised to the altar”.
His was the second-fastest canonization after Peter of Verona’s.
And in 1946, he was named a Doctor of the Church, “Doctor Evangelicus”. (Raymond A. Sebastián)