03/01/2018, 11.00
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Katchatheevu, growing devotion to St. Anthony on the island of miracles

by Melani Manel Perera

The annual ceremony took place on February 24th. Many faithful come to give thanks for the blessings received. The healing of crippling pain; help received for the education of children; the cell phone found.

Katchatheevu (AsiaNews) - Thousands of people continue to visit the shrine of St. Anthony of Padua every year on the island of Katchatheevu, between India and Sri Lanka. The reason is the many miracles performed by the saint. AsiaNews met many faithful on the occasion of the annual ceremony [24 February, ed], this year for the first time celebrated in the Sinhala and Tamil languages. All concurred on the miraculous blessings that occur in their daily lives through the intercession of the saint.

"Strong faith makes our lives happier and more successful," three people tell us. Jothi Malar, from Rameshwaran, in southern India, says: "Strong faith and trust in everything can conquer anything. Usually St. Anthony is famous for being the saint who helps find the lost things. But I'm here with my family to heal my hand. "

The woman reports that she has suffered from severe pain in her left hand for a long time and that she has had numerous medical treatments, without obtaining results. In the end she decided to pray St. Anthony. "I promised - she says - that if he healed me, I would have visited the sanctuary and offered a thanksgiving Mass every year. After continuous prayers lasting three months, my hand was healed".

Arul Soosai, 57 years old from the Indian village of Kunappanendal, is a tribal doctor who treats his sick patients with water. This is the third time that he has visited the church on the island. "Three years ago - he reports - I had a heart attack. My wife turned to St. Anthony and promised to take me here every year if I were healed. And so it was, without use of medicines. It is a miracle accomplished by our beloved saint ".

Marian Susila Fernandez, from the diocese of Chilaw, shares her miracle: "When we arrived, my son lost his cell phone while he was charging it. He was very worried, but we were told that all this happened to put our faith to the test and that we would find it again before leaving the Church. And in fact it was delivered to us shortly after taking the first communion ". The boy is so devoted to the saint that he has his image in a tattoo on his chest.

Victor Muthu Mary Benazia, from Thalai-Mannar, is on the island with her two daughters. She came to give thanks for the comfort received. She explains that "for 14 years I lived as internally displaced [Internally Displaced People - ed]. We lost everything because of the war. My husband suffers from heart disease and there are no remedies. I'm the only one who earns something and brings home the bread. I prayed St. Anthony to help me in the education of my little girls. They are very good at school, but I cannot guarantee their studies. After the prayers, our problems have been solved. We are very happy."

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