Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua is celebrated on June 19. NT BUZZ delves further about this celebration and the relevance of the Saint Anthony’s Church at Siolim and some less known facts about the saint. Although, Siolim is famous for the Sangodd festival this place is also well known for the feast of miraculous St Anthony
MARIA DE LOURDES BRAVO DA COSTA RODRIGUES
Saint Anthony is the patron of the church in Siolim, Bardez. He is known as St Anthony of Lisbon or St Anthony of Padua, mainly because he was born in Lisbon and he died in Padua. Both the cities are pilgrim cities where thousands pay homage and seek help, from one of the most popular saint of the Catholic churches, who is known for making miracles. The feast of the patron will be celebrated on Sunday, June 19. The Catholic Church follows the tradition to celebrate the feast on the Sunday after June 13, the day he died.
The village of Siolim is not only famous for the Sangodd festival on the feast of St John on June 24, but also for the miraculous St Anthony.
The famous church of Siolim was consecrated to St Anthony only in 1907. Though the village had a church from 1568, it was dedicated to the Mother of God. This Church was at Gaunsavaddo. In 1600 another church was built at Marna. A third church was built, which was blessed on December 28, 1907. How did the Church dedicated to Mother of God change to St Anthony? It is said that two Portuguese sailors who had been shipwrecked and saved, bore the expenses of the new church and dedicated it to St Anthony, whose statue they had been carrying at the time of the storm. The attributes of Saint Anthony are the Infant Jesus, a book, stalk of lilies, which are usually seen on the image of the Saint. However, the patron Saint of Siolim Church is different from the common depiction of the Saint. The saint’s statue has a serpent in his right hand tied to a rope, which is a unique presentation of the saint.
What is the reason for this? Legend tells us that while building the church a cobra of frightful dimensions and a strange form started to harass the workmen employed in the construction and disturb the parish priest, who was directing the construction work. This cobra was seen many times crawling on his residential house. It is said that it was big in size like a dragon, and had power to kill men with its breath and sight. When the Capela-Mor of the church was half built, the statue of the saint was put into a big niche opened in the wall at the farther end.
The priests who were desperate with the menace of the terrible cobra, and their futile efforts to kill it, resolved to abandon the work and to choose another place far away. Before taking such an extreme step, the priests prayed ardently to the saint to solve their problem. To their great astonishment, the next day, early in the morning they saw the cobra hanging to the snare of the cord, in the hand of the saint. Thus, the work progressed and the beautiful church was built. To commemorate this miracle a picture was painted of St Anthony holding a serpent tied with a cord in his right hand and a cross in his left.
The statue of St Anthony, which is in a niche on the frontispiece of the church, has a wooden serpent tied with a cord in his right hand, while the statue on the main altar also has a serpent of silver tied with a silver chain. Also on the big bell, cast in Germany is engraved the image of St Anthony holding a serpent tied with a cord.