Saint Anthony of Padua relics venerated following Mass

Originally Appeared in : 9905-2/28/19

SAVANNAH--Two first-class relics of Saint Anthony of Padua arrived in Savannah Feb. 22 for veneration as a part of a 10-day diocesan-wide tour.


Transported by Father Bortolino Maistrello, OFM Conv., a friar of the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua in Padua, Italy, the relics first stopped at Blessed Sacrament Church in Savannah, and over the next nine days also traveled throughout many of the Diocese of Savannah’s seven deaneries. 


After Mass at each parish, parishioners lined up to touch the reliquaries housing the relics and to express their petitions—both oral and written—to the saint. These petitions were taken back to Italy and placed at the saint’s tomb when the relic tour concluded March 4. 


Father Maistrello told the congregation gathered for Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah Feb. 24 during his visit to the parish that the relics—pieces of the saint’s body taken from the coffin when it was opened in 1981—had traveled throughout Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy and other parts of the United States. 


 “He was an enthusiastic announcer of the Gospel of the Good News and the Good News was that we have a God, a forgiving God. We can see this especially in considering these bones,” Father Maistrello said, drawing a parallel between the saint’s life and the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 6 on forgiveness. “We know that he died of dropsy because of the hard life he had, because of going around all over Italy and France, and not only that but true medical examination of the bones we realize that the bones of the knees—they were consumed because he was passing a lot of time kneeling down for prayer. So that was somehow the fuel of his enthusiasm to go and announce the Gospel.”


According to a press release distributed before the relic tour, one of the relics—Saint Anthony’s floating rib—also was used by the current pope in 2000 to bless the congregation at the cathedral in Bueno Aires, Argentina. It was also kissed by Sister Lucia of Fatima in 1995 during her Monastery of Carmelite Sisters in Coimbra, Portugal’s commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Saint Anthony of Padua’s birth. 


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