Thousands of people from all around the country flocked to St Mel’s Cathedral last Tuesday, June 14 as the Relic of Saint Anthony of Padua paid a visit.
Accompanied by Fr Mario Conte, a Franciscan Friar at St Anthony’s Basilica in Padua, Italy, St Anthony is commonly known as the patron saint of lost things.
“There must have been at least a thousand people at both of the Masses and it was chock-a-block the whole day,” explained Fr Michael McGrath. “People travelled distances to be there.”
Paying tribute to the Ushers who had the difficult job of managing the crowds as well as sacristan Gerry Reilly , Fr McGrath said it was impossible to put a total figure on the number of visitors.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if four or five thousand passed through the Cathedral that day,” he continued, pointing out that for many, it was the first visit to the newly-restored building.
While delighted at the crowds that gathered, Fr McGrath admitted that he wasn’t surprised by the popularity of St Anthony. However, he did acknowledge that the event; “in many ways, felt like stepping back into a past we thought was long forgotten”.
Aside from the lost things that many have found thanks to the intercession of St Anthony, his popularity is often credited to the fact that his relic is a physical, human entity with which people can form a connection.