The celebration took place at the Panjora sanctuary. The holy day attracts many migrant workers from abroad. Not only Catholics, but also Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. A Muslim couple married for ten years: "We have asked for the grace of being blessed with a child".
Gazipur (AsiaNews) - At least 80,000 faithful of every religion came from all over Bangladesh yesterday and from abroad to honor St. Anthony of Padua, who's feast day is celebrated here at the beginning of February. The celebrations were held in the sanctuary dedicated to the saint in the village of Panjora, near the church of St. Nicholas of Tolentino in Nagari (Gazipur district). According to the parish priest, Fr. Joyanto S. Gomes, "it is the highest participation ever, since we started celebrating the saint 30 years ago".
Saint Anthony of Padua is one of the most loved saints of the Bangladeshi people. His feast attracts many migrants back home from abroad to take part in the celebrations. Fr Gomes reports that many faithful, about 6 thousand people, were also present the day before, during which prayers and novenas were held. Furthermore, four priests heard the confessions of at least 1,500 Catholics.
The figure of the saint of Portuguese origins is venerated not only by Catholics, but also Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. Many brought votive offerings like sweets, money, candles, cows, goats, pigeons, which have been gathered by 150 volunteers. This is the case of 60-year-old Shuva Rani, a Hindu, who comes here every year on a pilgrimage with his whole family. This time he brought candles as a gift. "It was my son who works in Saudi Arabia - he says - who asked me to offer candles. He prays a lot to Jesus through St. Anthony and receives answers to his prayers ".
The Roman Catholic Raphael Cruze, 72, is a member of the parish of Nagari. He reveals that he has venerated Saint Anthony since he was a child. "I have received many blessings. My son has not worked for a long time. I have prayed the Lord through St. Anthony to help him find a good job, and so it was. "
Mahabub Islam, a 40-year-old Muslim who works in an NGO, came with his wife. The man tells: "A colleague of mine told me about St. Anthony and his miraculous power. We've been married for 10 years but we have not had a baby yet. I came here to pray St. Anthony to intercede for us with Jesus. We hope to have the blessing of a child".