The Eve of the Annual Feast of St. Anthony’s Parish-Kuntalnagar

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Report and Pictures by Eugene Moodubelle

Kuntalnagar, 20 January 2010: The eve or Vespers (Besp) of the Annual Feast of St. Anthony’s Parish at Kuntalnagar was celebrated on Tuesday, 19th January 2010 from 7 PM. The chief celebrant of the Besp was Fr. Maxim Misquita, the parish priest of the Our Lady of the Sea Church, Kalmady. Following the liturgy of the Word of God, Fr. Maxim gave an inspiring homily in which he pointed out that the saints were not born but the persons who were burning with the love of Jesus Christ were determined to become saints by carrying His Cross and living according to His teachings. He explained this aspect of sainthood in reference to the life of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Kuntalnagar parish.

The liturgy of the Word of God and homily was followed by the prayers of the faithful and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Thereafter, people and priests gathered in the church compound to witness the beautiful and exciting fireworks. The exterior of the church was gracefully illuminated with designs and linear patterns. The fireworks and the illumination of the church building in the background made an excellent and delightful sight for the people who attended the Besp. Meanwhile, people were also seen doing purchases from various stalls that are being put up at the edge of the church compound.

As the Kuntalnagar parish is celebrating the Annual Feast in honour of their patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua on Wedenesday, 20th January 2010, it would be appropriate to know in brief the life and sainthood of this great saint of the church.

St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most loved and admired saints in the Catholic Church. He was born in the year 1195 at Lisbon in Portugal where his father was a captain in the royal army. At the age of fifteen years, he had joined the Augustinian Order and devoted himself with great earnestness both to study and to the practice of piety in the Monastery in Portugal. However, in 1221, when he was just 26 years old, St. Anthony left the Augustinian Order and joined the Franciscan Order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1206.

The incident that prompted St. Anthony to join the Franciscan Order was that five of the Franciscan missionaries in Morocco in North Africa were martyred for their faith in 1220 and their mutilated bodies were brought to St. Anthony’s monastery on their way back for burial. With a desire to earn the crown of a martyr, St. Anthony decided to become a Franciscan and carry on the missionary work in North Africa.

Though St. Anthony wanted to preach the Gospel of Christ in North Africa and earn the crown of a martyr, the will of God was something else. As soon as he went to North Africa, St. Anthony was taken ill and was forced to return. On the return trip to Portugal, his ship was driven by storm upon the coast of Sicily. From Sicily he made his way to Assisi in northern Italy and sought admission into a monastery, but met with difficulty on account of his sickly appearance. He was finally assigned, out of pure compassion, to the rural hospice of San Paolo near Forli, Romagna in Italy. He was given this assignment after considering his poor health. There he appears to have lived as a hermit and was put to work in the kitchen.

One day, on the occasion of an ordination, St. Anthony was asked to preach as there was no one who would take this responsibility. Though, initially hesitant, St. Anthony’s sermon was very effective and he was asked by his superior to preach the Gospel throughout the regions of Lombardy in Northern Italy. Later, he was also assigned the additional responsibility of teaching at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in Southern France. However, it was as a preacher that Anthony revealed his supreme gift.

In 1226, after preaching in the French region of Provence, St. Anthony returned to Italy and served as the representative of the Franciscan Order at the Papal Court of Pope Gregory IX at Vatican, Rome. His preaching was so effective that he was asked to prepare sermons for the fest days.

St. Anthony used to spend the day in teaching and hearing the confession of sinners till late in the evening. In spite of this he would spend many hours of the night in intimate union with God. Once a man, at whose home St. Anthony was spending the night, came upon the saint and found him holding in his arms the Child Jesus, unspeakably beautiful and surrounded with heavenly light. For this reason St. Anthony is often depicted holding the Child Jesus.

The strenuous life of St. Anthony had adverse effect on his health and he became severely ill and died at the age of 36 on his way back to Padua on 13th June 1231. Pope Gregory IX canonized St. Anthony in the very next year (1232). A magnificent basilica was built in his honour at Padua. His holy relics, among which the tongue that remained incorruptible, were entombed there in 1263. From the time of his death up to the present day, countless miracles have occurred through the intercession St. Anthony. As such he is known as the ‘Wonder-Worker’.

The fame of St. Anthony spread far and wide and he has been known as the most celebrated of the followers of St. Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of Padua in Italy and of many other cities in Portugal and in the countries of the former Portuguese Empire. St. Anthony is especially invoked for the recovery of lost things. In 1946, St. Anthony was declared a Doctor of the Church.


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Comments on this Article
Sathish Nayak, Kadambila/Dubai Thu, January-21-2010, 9:21
Nice pic ...My Schoolmate Mr.Melwyn to whom i m seeing after a long time...
Alban D’souza, Kunthalnagar Thu, January-21-2010, 6:06
The life story of St.Antony of Padua discribed very nicely. all the snaps are very good..Appriciate the report photos of Dr.Eugene.It looks we had more fire works rather than last lighting gives a beuatifull look to our church
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