Devotees of St. Anthony of Padua are expected to flock to New York City between Feb. 15 and 22 when Franciscan friars from the Basilica of St. Anthony bring a relic — or a preserved portion of a saint’s body — to the region.
The first stop in the city will be St. Adalbert’s Church in Elmhurst on Feb. 15. The church is run by the Franciscan Friars of St. Anthony. Tom Muscatello, a layman who works a St. Adalbert’s, said the friars have send out 9,000 invitations to devotees of the saint throughout the country.
St. Anthony was born to a well-to-do family in Portugal in 1195 and died in Padua, Italy in 1231 at age 35. He was considered a passionate and compelling preacher with expert knowledge of Scripture.
This year marks the 750th anniversary of the discovery of the relic — St. Anthony’s perfectly preserved tongue and larynx — in his casket by the man who later would become St. Bonaventure.
“In the United States, his devotees are numerous, and the largest concentration is here in the New York-Connecticut-New Jersey region,” Muscatello said. “Many of them would never be able to go to Padua. The friars from the basilica will bring the relic over for eight days. We expect all the services to be packed.”
The visiting friars, led by the Rev. Mario Conte from the Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Italy, also are scheduled to be in California later this year and are attempting to arrange a series of celebrations in the Chicago area.
Conte, in a statement released by the Franciscans, said it was fitting that the parts of his body that allowed St. Anthony to speak miraculously remained preserved following his death.
“As a preacher and writer, Anthony was continuously praising the Lord with his tongue or his pen,” Conte said. “... because it was with his tongue that he converted so many people through the operation of the Holy Spirit ... Anthony’s tongue therefore represents the saint’s untiring and continuous efforts to know the Word of God, to measure his life against it, and to make it known to others through his preaching and teaching.”
Invited guests to the events in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan include the Rev. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.
Representatives of DiMarzio and Dolan did not have information regarding their plans by press time.
The first celebration will take place at St. Adalbert’s at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15. The church is located at 52-89 83 St. in Elmhurst.
At 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 16 the relic will proceed to Most Holy Trinity Parish & St. Mary’s Church at 138 Montrose Ave. in Brooklyn, before coming back to St. Adalbert’s at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17.
Five separate services will take place between 12:15 and 6 p.m. on Feb. 19 at St. Francis of Assissi Church at 135 W. 31 St. in Manhattan. The next day the relic will move to St. John the Baptist Church and Friary at 210 W. 31 St. in Manhattan for services at 5:15 and 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 21, will see the relic at St. Crispin Friary/St. Adalbert’s Church at 420 E. 156 St. in the Bronx at 7 p.m.
The following day the friars will travel with it to St. Francis Friary at 500 Todt Hill Road in Staten Island.
The last celebration in the tristate area will take place on Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. at St. John Kanty Church at 49 Speer Ave. in Clifton, NJ.