The Relics of St. Anthony have now come to Costa Rica and are now back in Padua. It was a wonderful and awe-inspiring to have the relics with us and all the experience that went with them, even the stressful ones.
Here is a photo of the Anointing of the Sick that took place September 3.
Here is a photo of the Secular Franciscans giving away "St. Anthony's bread after mass on that same day.
From St. Anthony's in Belen here is a photo of Fr. Luciano explaining about the relics in Italian and Fray Victor translating what he said into Spanish.
Here are the infamous petitions and intentions for the intercession of St. Anthony from the people. Every couple of days we would spread out the petitions and intentions on the dining room table to sort them. We separated those that addresses or e-mail addresses on them from those that did not because there are people in Padua who will respond to everyone that wrote down their contact information.
Now do not be fooled, this is not all of them that were written. After being sorted they will all be sent to Padua and placed on the tomb of St. Anthony, the friars will pray for the petitions and intentions daily, and then eventually they will get burned. There are many more than are in the photo above, it was amazing to see the faith of present on these papers. I do not want to apply that I read them, but I am referring to the amount of things people wrote filling the papers and to the various materials people used to write their petitions (for example: business cards, receipts, pages from calendars, and newspaper or magazine ads.
Above is a photo of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders visiting the relics. Below are two collages that were made by the children in 3rd graders.
This one is an image of St. Anthony's miracle of the Real Presence of the Eucharist. As the story goes a person did not believe in the real presence and told St. Anthony that his donkey after not eating for three days would choose to eat hay over the Eucharist. Well the donkey venerated the Eucharist. Here is a link to the full story, St. Anthony and the Real Presence of the Eucharist.
This one is an image of St. Anthony preaching to fish. In the city of Rimini, the people would not listen to St. Anthony's preaching so he preached to the fish and the listened. Eventually the people of Rimini began to listen to him. Here is a link to the full story, St. Anthony and Preaching to the Fish.
Here is photo of the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders visiting the relics.
And here a photo of the preschool visiting the relics. I have to say that for me this was the most emotional part of my time with the relics. The children sang a song to St. Anthony with hand motions and everything. It was so moving, even Fray Luciano and Javier joined in; I would have to but I was controlling the music. The faith of the smallest children of the school was amazing.
After singing, like all of the other groups, the student had a chance to see the relics close-up and to touch the reliquary. Fray Luciano asked if I would hold the reliquary as the little kids venerated the relics, I said yes. I was surprised and honored at the same time. I knelt on the floor and one by one each child came to touch the reliquary. We told them "Tocar y Rezar" meaning "To Touch and to Pray". One child before touching the reliquary prayed for his family and friends out loud with his eyes tightly shut and opened his eyes to touch the reliquary. There was no way to doubt the movement of the Spirit, even in the lives of the youngest among us.
Here is a photo of Fray Javier, Teacher Kary, and Fray Luciano with the preschool students.
Last but not least is a close-up photo of Frays Javier and Luciano. These are the trooper friars who went everywhere the relics went as guides and testaments to the Life of St. Anthony. Day after day the same story and the same jobs, but all for the Glory of God! I am grateful to have met them and wish them all the best as their journey of preaching the Gospel through the example to St. Anthony continues...