As my husband and I attend Sunday Mass nearly every week at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, this news about the relics of that great saint in Scotland and England caught my attention. As The Catholic Herald notes,
Catholics filled Westminster Cathedral on Saturday to venerate the relics of St Anthony of Padua.
The arrival of the saint’s relics, which comprised a small piece of petrified flesh and a layer of skin from the saint’s cheek, was part of a UK tour marking the 750th anniversary of the discovery of St Anthony’s incorrupt tongue.
Following an afternoon of veneration, where pilgrims queued for hours outside the cathedral in order to visit the relics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster celebrated Mass in honour of the great saint.
During his homily, Archbishop Nichols said that St Anthony was a guide to those who have lost their way. He said: “On this most fundamental of all journeys we often get lost, taking a wrong path, ending up in a cul-de-sac, distracted by bright lights or misjudgement. St Anthony is well known for helping us to find lost things. And he can help us in this way too. He can help us to find again our true path whenever we have lost our way.”
[I'm not surprised that Archbishop Nichols has supported the veneration of these relics, as he urged Catholics throughout England to visit an exhibition at the British Museum in 2011 on relics and reliquaries:
All British Catholics should try to visit the new exhibition of relics and reliquaries at the British Museum in London, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said.
Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe opened in the historic Round Reading Room at the museum today.
“I think this is a very, very unique and remarkable exhibition. There are objects here, for example the Mandylion, the face of Christ, which will never leave the Vatican again,” the archbishop said.
“I would just urge Catholics in England and Wales and from further afield to make the effort to come to the British Museum some time between now and October to take up this very unique opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, and it’s well worth the journey.”]
The relics of St. Anthony continue their journey through Scotland and England, as The Catholic Herald continues:
Following their visit to Westminster Cathedral, the relics’ tour concluded at St Peter’s Italian Church in Clerkenwell. It is estimated that the relics have attracted 250,000 people across the UK during their tour.
Prior to their arrival at Westminster Cathedral, St Anthony’s relics had visited Belfast, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Chester.
During their veneration at the Franciscan Church in Chester, the Church of St Francis, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury reminded pilgrims that they were too called to be saints.
Addressing a packed church last Thursday, Bishop Davies said: “In Rome yesterday Pope Francis reminded us of the startling fact that the term ‘saint’ refers to you and to me, to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus and are incorporated in Him and in the Church through Baptism. We are to be all saints!”
St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!
Image: Guercino's St Anthony of Padua with the Infant Christ.