Mangaluru, Feb 16, 2018: City of Mangaluru celebrated the feast of Relic of Saint Anthony at the Milagres Church grounds on Feb 15, as per long traditions with great solemnity. Most Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza the Bishop of Mangalore said this feast is a thanksgiving celebration for the numerous favours received throughthe powerful intercession of Saint Anthony. The huge gathering of devotees present for the feast is a witness to the unfailing help of the Wonder Worker Saint Anthony, who is considered a great saint of the church in India and all over the world too.
Rev. Maxim Noronha the Parish Priest of Infant Jesus Church Bantwal-Modankap preached the homily. In his homily he preached thevital role of tongue in human life. The tongue can encourage others, revive somebody’s hopes. And also if not used properly it can malign somebody’s name and destroy other’s life. He called on the people present to make use of the tongue to praise God and speak well of others. When we do this wecelebrate a meaningful feast in honour of Saint Anthony’s Relic (Saint Anthony’s tongue), he said. 35 priests and more than 4,000 devotees participated in the celebration.
Earlier during the day at 4.30 pm a Holy Mass was celebrated at Milagres Church in Malayalam by Rev Dr Varghese Chakkalakal the Bishop of Calicut. A Holy Mass was celebrated by Rev. Dr Pius D’Souza the Episcopal Vicar for Religious at 8.15 am at Milagres Church for the sick and elderly. At 11 am a Holy Mass was celebrated by Msgr Denis Moras Prabhu the Vicar General of the Diocese for the inmates and special invitees at the Ashram, Jeppu. The devoted feelings were palpable at the Ashram which is an environmental wounder in the middle of the city during these days.
Brief history of devotion:
The ’Ashram’ or ’St Anthony’s Charity Institutes’ had a simple start on June 12, 1898. At the Milaagres church (set up in 1680) on June 13, 1898, the feast day, a start was made and the devotion of the people became legendary. Devoted people brought offerings, what was realized from these offerings was distributed among the poor . A life size statue of St Anthony from the Vatican, Rome was obtained in 1900 blessed by Pope Leo XIII, it is venerated at the shrine even today. On February 15th 1899 a second Feast of St Anthony, that of his relics were commenced, the tradition has grown to this day.
In 1911, Rt Rev. Dr Paul Perini S.J. then Bishop of Mangalore, with rare vision and unusual faith in Providence the work became a separate entity, out of the Milagres Parish directly responsible to the Bishop. The “Poor Homes” to shelter the challenged, destitute, orphans and the aged who did not have any one to take care of them materialised with Fr Colaco leasing a plot across the road. He laboured hard for of 31 years honoured with the status of ’Msgr’; before he could retire he passed away on July 20, 1929, his mortal remains are interred in front of the Shrine Altar.
The number of inmates kept shooting up, a bungalow and the surrounding land of 27.36 acres at Jeppu, was acquired in an auction by Rt Rev. Dr Victor R. Fernandes, Bishop of Mangalore. Rev. Charles Lobo’s extraordinary efforts and the Almighty’s plan enabled Rev. Julian Rego, on October 15, 1936 to complete the work of shifting the inmates from Milagres to the new homes at Jeppu, the present site. The diocese of Mangalore will always prize this Ashram as most dear, urging it to strive even more to serve the suffering needy. In the modern era from Year 2000, Fr. Clifford D’Souza; then, late Msgr Fred V. Pereira were Directors; due to age and ill health retirement resulted. For some time now Rev.Onil D’souza has been the Director with Rev Francis D’souza as administrator.
In May 2008, Msgr Denis Moras Prabhu took charge of the Institutes in addition to his position as Vicar General of the diocese, for a while.The present Director Fr.Onil D’Souza along with the the long time Administrator Fr. Francis D’Souza, assistants, staff, volunteers are now doing admirable work. Many generous souls in past decades have contributed and are remembered always. Caring for helpless, gravely ill and physically challenged numbering around 400 day to day, is a task that is possible to human limitations only with the direct grace of goodness, St. Anthony is seen as a positive tool of the powetr of the Almighty.
St. ANTHONY OF PADUA, 1195-1231 A.D.: St.Anthony of Padua, also venerated as Saint Anthony of Lisbon, was born in Lisbon, Portugal, which was then a part of Spain, in 1195 A.D.His life is a legend that can be read in many ways, his extraordinary love for Christ and the poor transformed him to serve all mankind. On June 13,1231, the beloved preacher became ill he died at the young age of 36. His body was buried in a chapel, which is now enclosed by the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua. In 1263, when his remains were transferred to the Basilica, his tongue was found to be still fresh and red in color. Saint Anthony was declared a saint 352 days after his death, by the same Pope Gregory he had met in life. St. Anthony of Padua is one of the most famous disciples of St. Francis of Assisi. He was a famous preacher and worker of miracles in his day, and throughout the eight centuries since his death, he has become known throughout the world as a wonderful support for suffering people.