The relics of St Anthony of Padua are on the move! Specifically on the move to several locations between Milwaukee and Chicago during June. The tour celebrates the 750th anniversary of the discovery of the relics by St. Bonaventure, then Minister General of the Friars Minor. I was fascinated to read that when St. Anthony’s body was exhumed and examined, it was found to be mostly bones and ashes with one amazing exception: his tongue was perfectly intact! St. Bonaventure exclaimed: “Oh blessed tongue, that ever praised the Lord, and led others to praise Him! Now it is clear how great are your merits before God!”
Why the tongue? Perhaps because St. Anthony was such a powerful and persuasive preacher who brought many into the faith. It was in September in the year 1222, that the young friar was suddenly thrust into the limelight when he was asked at the 11th hour to give a sermon that no one else was prepared to give. His eloquence and knowledge startled those in attendance and his quiet life was no more. In 1931, the seven-hundredth anniversary of his death, in recognition of his profound gifts to the Church, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
Franciscan scholar Sophronius Clasen,o.f.m., wrote: “Immediately after his death, Anthony became the object of an extraordinary devotion; and miracle followed miracle, as the prayers of the sick and afflicted were answered by sudden cures and other wonders. This set on foot a great wave of enthusiasm, and drew large crowds to his tomb, who began to honor him as a Saint even before the Pope had canonized him.” Today, he is still a miracle-worker and his name is invoked for lost articles and for all the poor and oppressed. Father Mario Conte, a Franciscan and executive editor of the Messenger of St. Anthony magazine in Padua who is traveling with the relics, said the exhibition is attracting large crowds. “Somehow,” he said, “people feel that St. Anthony is a friend, he is almost a member of their family, a brother. ”