DO YOU LIKE SAINT ANTHONY?
When I was a child, I was taught that whenever I lost anything, if I prayed to Saint Anthony, he would help me find the missing object. Over the years I have invoked St. Anthony many, many times. He is one of my favorite saints. He has been in my life like a favorite uncle, always there when you need him.
Yesterday, June 13th and here in Portugal it’s also one of the most popular national holidays, “Dia de Santo Antonio” (Saint Anthony’s Day). Living here in Portugal, I’m more present to things I’ve heard about but to which I never really paid attention. I had never bothered to find out who Saint Anthony really is, so as I was choosing a topic for today’s blog, I decided that it was a good time for us to discover who this Saint Anthony really was/is.
St. Anthony is among one of the most beloved saints of Christianity. A rich legend of mystism and miracles surrounds him. Over the centuries, he has inspired voluminous amounts of devotional literature, countless masses of people being named Antonio in his honor, and numerous cities, neighborhoods and other public places all over the world also having his name.
According to Wikipedia… Saint Anthony is “considered the patron of amputees, animals, the sterile, the boatmen, the elderly, pregnant women, fishermen, farmers, travelers and sailors, horses and donkeys, the poor and the oppressed is the patron saint of Portugal, and is invoked to to find lost things, to conceive of children, to prevent shipwrecks and for those who want to get married.” Well, ok then! That is certainly a vast list of options! Busy guy!
WHO WAS HE?
Born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal, he was the scion of a wealthy and noble family. He entered the Augustinian Abbey of Saint Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon, where he studied scripture and the Latin classics. In 1219, he met five visiting Franciscan monks who were en route to Morocco to preach to the Muslims there. In February 1220, news arrived that the five Franciscans had been martyred in Morocco. Anthony was moved by their deaths and obtained permission from his superiors to join the Franciscan order and travel to Morocco. He later relocated to Italy, where he showed great aptitude for preaching. He was eventually commissioned by the Vatican to produce a series of “Sermons for Feast Days.” He died in Padua, Italy on June 13th, 1231. In 1946 he was named a Doctor of the Church, a particular distinction given after canonization by the Roman Catholic church.
The festivities in honor of St. Anthony begin on the evening of the 12th of June. Every year the beautiful city of Lisbon hosts the “popular marches”, a very large colorful parade coming down the Avenida da Liberdade (main artery of the city). Different neighborhoods create their own floats complete with wild costumes and dances competing for bragging rights.
A large fireworks display usually ends the parade. Boyfriends buy a small vase of a basil-like to offer girlfriends. The party lasts all night and all over the city. This is a popular folk festival. People eat outside and there is a fun atmosphere. The most popular food is the treat of eating grilled sardines, pork ribs and caldo verde (an incredible yummy soup made with finely cut kale and drink red wine. Especially in the very old and typical Alfama district, there is lots of live music and dancing until dawn.
St. Anthony is the matchmaker, so the Lisbon City Hall yearly on June 13th organizes a marriage ceremony for many young newlyweds from modest means. They all get married together. They are known as ‘St. Anthony’s Grooms’ receive offers from the local government and also various companies as a way to help the new family start life on the right foot.
Even though he was born in the 1100’s you can still go visit where he was born… Check out this amazing link… http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/santo-antonio-church.html
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