St Anthony of Padua, Italy, and the Basilica.
A Portuguese friar in Veneto
Catholics all over the world honour st Anthony of Padua, who is said to have thaumaturgic skills, both in his lifetime and in death.
He is the most worshipped of the catholic saints, and his canonization was the quickest ever, just one year after his death, occurred in 1231 in Padua.
He’s the patron of Padua and some other italian cities, plus of Portugal, Brazil, and of the city of Beaumont in Texas.
Since the very day of its funeral his tomb became a pilgrimage destination, with Catholics of any social status touching his tomb and praying for miracles and recoveries.
The important Veneto’s town of Padua is also known as La città del Santo, the city of the Saint, as the mortal remains of St Anthony of Padua are preserved inside the Basilica of Sant’Antonio.
His skeleton, his jaw bone and mostly his tongue are the object of a tremendous religious worship, and one of the reasons why many tourists from all over the world visit the Basilica of Padua every year.
St Anthony of Padua history
In short, Anthony – Santo Antonio de Lisboa for the Portugueses - was born to a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, around 1195.
Grown up with the ideal of the Reconquista, i.e. the the chase of the Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, he moved to Morocco in 1220, in order to convert to catholicism as many Muslims as he could.
Once there, he fell ill and decided to re-embark for Portugal.
On his way back the ship was pushed ashore by heavy storms upon the coast of Sicily. Hence began his italian adventure that finally took him to Padua.
Before arriving to Padua, he spent some years in Assisi, becoming a follower of st Francis of Assisi, and living a tough and ascetic life in a humble cell.
With time, he began to be known for his strong eloquence and substance in his public speaking. Thanks to his passion supported by his great oratory, he became soon a well-known and acclaimed franciscan preacher.
To accomplish his evangelization process and preaching - often in behalf of the have-nots and usury victims - he would travel both across northern Italy and southern France, where he occasionally took up a position as a teacher at the university.
He chose to live in Padua, when he did not have to travel.
He soon became ill with dropsy and asthma. In 1231 he went for a respite to the hermitage of Camposampiero, near Padua. He died in Padua the same year, at 36.
The st Anthony feast is celebrated every year on June 13th, the very day of his death.
Basilica of St Anthony of Padua
The big basilica was built incorporating a preexisting church, a year after the Anthony's death, in 1232, in order to provide a monumental tomb for the remains of the franciscan friar, preserved in the Treasury Chapel inside the church.
The imposing medieval basilica – a blend of byzantine and gothic style - is worth a visit for its great artistic value, regardless of its connection with st Anthony of Padua and the religious belief.
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