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2013
custodia.org

Saint Anthony of Padua: the modernity of his faith and his love for the poor

Thursday, June 13 is a holiday at Saint Savior monastery in Jerusalem. The Custody of the Holy Land, here as in all the monasteries of the province, is celebrating its holy patron and protector: Saint Anthony of Padua.

At First Vespers, the Custodial Vicar, Fra Artemio Vitores, who presided over the celebrations at Saint Savior, recalled how invoking Saint Anthony had protected the Franciscans from destruction of Saint Savior Monastery by the Ottomans during the First World War when the British were advancing toward the Holy City. (See homily in Italian below.)

The Friars decided, therefore, to choose him as their patron saint, a desire that was confirmed and approved by the pope in 1928.

Since then, devotion to this Saint “one of the most beloved in the church,” according to Fra Artemio, is still strongly emphasized in the Holy Land as is witnessed by the many Christian families who each year on his feast day concentrate a child to him in gratitude for a grace obtained. Fra Artemio also emphasized the example and modernity of this Franciscan Saint, not only in this year of faith, which he preached with fervor, but also because in a difficult economic time he was always concerned for the poor.

A large crowd joined the Franciscans in Saint Savior Church. In the first rows, following tradition, sat representatives of other Christian communities of the city and the Consuls General of the four Latin nations: Italy, France, Belgium and Spain. Everyone who opens themselves to serving particularly the Christians of this country was present to join the joy and renewed trust of the custody in the intercession of this saint, originally from Lisbon, a contemporary of Francis of Assisi.

About 40 priests concelebrated the Eucharist with Fra Artemio, and after the celebration everyone gathered in the hall of the Curia General for light fraternal refreshment before the Custody’s invited guests joined the friars for a festive breakfast.

The day ended with the singing of Second Vespers, with Fra Marcello Cichinelli presiding. In a brief homily, Fra Marcello spoke of the two faces of Saint Anthony: the one studied in seminary philosophy courses, and the one uncovered in his sermons that show his visceral attachment to Christ Crucified, and his love of the Divine Word and of the poor.

On this day, the Custody holds particularly closely in its heart and confides to the protection of Saint Anthony of Padua its friars in Syria. They number no more than there at the heart of this conflict that is tearing apart and spilling the blood of the country, who continue to pray and offer aid to everyone without distinction, praying for the good of all. May Saint Anthony help them at every moment.

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