Two rare Roman Catholic relics on tour throughout the world will be making a stop at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills next week.
According to Catholic teaching, the body of forceful Portuguese priest St. Anthony of Padua was exhumed in 1263, three decades after his death.
Once his casket was opened, it was discovered that his tongue and vocal organs had remained intact.
Seven hundred fifty years later, the Roman Catholic Church is celebrating the discovery by parading relics containing a sliver of St. Anthony’s skin and a portion of one of his ribs throughout the world.
On Dec. 12, a Mass welcoming the relics will take place at 12:05 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs at 110-06 Queens Blvd.
Tom Muscatello, the United States representative for Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua in Italy, expects a sizable turnout, despite the potential for wintry weather that might deter devotees of the church from coming.
“People do have a tendency to connect with religion during the holiday period,” Muscatello said. “It is an incredible experience for so many people. We have St. Anthony’s devotees that follow us around the world.”
The extensive world tour to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the discovery of St. Anthony’s tongue began on Feb. 15 of this year at St. Adalbert’s Church in Elmhurst, and the relics have since made stops in Chicago, Los Angeles and New Jersey.
Prior to the relics’ appearance in Forest Hills, they toured England, Ireland and Scotland in October and November, attracting 250,000 worshipers, according to the London-based Roman Catholic newspaper, the Catholic Herald.
Muscatello believes that over 600,000 people have come to see the skin and bones of St. Anthony during the tour.
Unlike many other ancient valuables that people are not allowed to touch, he encourages those traveling to see the relics to interact with them.
“We tell everyone that it’s all right to touch them. Make contact,” he said. “They can kiss the relic and they can hold it and pray on the relic. As Pope Benedict said, people like St. Anthony were people that were touched by the living power of God.”
The relics will make stops in every borough as well as Long Island during the week of Dec. 9, including two Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan that will be presided over by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.