St Anthony of Padua is one of the most popular Catholic saints whose feast we celebrate today June 13. In Goa there are several parishes that have St Anthony as their patron, with houses dedicating altars or at least a status to this saint. Until a few years ago many parents baptised their newly born with the name of the saint. NT BUZZ speaking to a few of the Catholic community about the devotion to the saint and also about his life
SHERAS FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
St Anthony of Padua is one of the many saints to whom the Catholic community believes in and have faith in their intercession in granting their deepest desires. People in their homes, in chapels and shrines pray to St Anthony seeking his blessings. In Goa there are several parishes that have St Anthony as their patron, while others have dedicated altars to him. If finding a chapel or church devoted to this saint might be difficult then finding a person baptised with the name would not be uncommon. Until a few decades ago, Anthony and various versions of the name have been common among Christians.
St Anthony’s life has been set as an example for Christian values and principles and hence parents would name their child after him. “Saint Anthony is associated with miracles and sometimes people make vows that are often granted through the intercession of the saint. And hence parents would name the child after the saint to ensure the child’s wellbeing,” says assistant parish priest of St Anthony’s Church, Siolim, Fr Clifford Castelino.
This was true in the case of Maria Carvalho from Ribandar who named her son after her vow was fulfilled. “When I was expecting my second child, I prayed to St Anthony and made a vow to name the child after him if the child was a boy. And thus as promised my son’s middle name is Antonio,” says Carvalho. Similarly Ruth Pinto from Sangolda decided to name her child Anthony after her wish for a child was fulfilled. “After suffering numerous miscarriages I found solace in St Anthony and prayed diligently every day. My only wish was for a healthy child and I vowed that I would name the child after the miraculous saint. A year later I delivered a baby girl who was then baptised with Antonia as her middle name,” says Pinto. Francis Barretto from Carmona started following the saint primarily because of his mother-in-law. “She is a devoted Saint Anthony believer. She prays to Saint Anthony every single day and goes for the novenas and mass on a regular basis every year,” he says. Like Maria, Lucy Coutinho from Chinchinim wished for a son at the St Anthony’s Chapel, Deussua, Chinchinim and promised to name him ‘Anthony’. “My mother used to pray and attend the novenas at the chapel near our ancestral house and wished for a baby boy. This is how I was christened with the middle name Anthony,” says Jude Coutinho who is currently living in Ponda.
Anthony of Padua was a Portuguese priest and member of the Franciscan order who is the patron saint of Brasil, Portugal, pregnant women, elderly people, horses etc. He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant child Jesus and is commonly referred to as the finder of lost articles. Known for granting favours, bringing back lost possessions and performing miracles, St Anthony is revered and loved by people across ages. “There have been a couple of times when I have lost items which are dear to me and I have prayed and lit candles at altars and dedicated them to St Anthony following which I found the lost item,” says Barretto adding that it is truly a miracle and he has been doing so for years now. Another reason why children are named after saints is because they are born in a particular month dedicated to the saint or on their feast day.
Earlier parents would prefer resorting to biblical names or that of the saints to christen their children however the trend has seen a very drastic change in the recent times. “Saint Anthony was not only believed to grant wishes and help to find lost items but he also had gift of tongues of the holy spirit which he used to preach. During our generation parents use to find names in the Don Bosco’s calendar and thus I was named Anthony,” says Anthony Sequeira from Saligao. For Sanguem based Anthony Rodrigues his parents’ devotion to the saint might have triggered them to give name their child after him. “My parents had a strong devotion to St Anthony and they would celebrate the feast with great pomp,” says Rodrigues.
The feast is preceded by a 13-day novena known as trezen. Throughout the trezen devotees attend the novenas with much devotion and celebrate the feast with much joy. “As we begin schools, colleges and institutes, the Church gives us St Anthony as a model for the teachers and students to imbibe true knowledge and to learn the meaning of true wisdom. Like St Anthony may we always read, teach, preach and live the Word of God in our digital world today,” says Fr Steve Rodrigues, Our Lady of Victory Church, Revora.
(The feast of St Anthony will be celebrated at St Anthony’s cross, Miramar today at 8 p.m. The feast mass at Aquem Tolebando Chapel, near Power House, Aquem will be served at 6 p.m. with the main celebrant being Fr Agnelo Pinheiro. At St Anthony’s Chapel, Deussua, Chinchinim masses on the feast day masses will be served at 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 8.45 a.m. and 10.15 a.m. (high mass), 12 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.)