04/02/2016, 09.40
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Filippino faithful celebrate "visit" of St. Anthony of Padua

Two relics of the Franciscan saint sent from the basilica to the Asian country: the pilgrimage begins April 20 and ends May 5. Many devotees waiting to pray and ask for grace. Among the remains, even the rib fragment received at the time by Sister Lucia of Fatima and the then Card. Bergoglio.


Manila (AsiaNews) - 20 years since the last visit, the relics of St. Anthony of Padua are returning to the Philippines. The faithful from around the country - the largest Catholic majority in Asia together with East Timor - have a special devotion to the Franciscan saint, to the point that his relics will be exhibited in 20 churches around the country. The "journey" of the mortal remains of the saint will begin April 20 and end on May 2nd.

In a recent video message sent to the Philippine Church, Fr. Mario Conte - one of the 52 friars in charge of administering the holy Basilica in Padua as well as director of the "Messenger of St. Anthony" - explains that the two relics that will be sent to Asia are "among the most popular and the most important" .

The first consists of a fragment of St. Anthony’s skin, held custody  in a reliquary the shape of a small bust of the same Franciscan; the other is a fragment of his rib. This latter was received by Sister Lucia - last of the Fatima seers to die - when it was sent for public veneration to Coimbra, Portugal, in 1995.

This little rib fragment was also welcomed by the archbishop of Buenos Aires, then Cardinal. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.

To accommodate the large number of devotees who hope to be able to pray over to the relics and ask for grace, the pilgrimage will be long: it starts from Pasay City, at the holy shrine Teresina, taking in Manila, Makati, Leyte, Guiuan, Mandaluyong and many other cities. The final Mass to greet the saint's remains will be held in the St. Ezechiele Moreno chapel in Las Pinas.

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