Solemnity of St Anthony celebrated in Jerusalem

Solemnity of St Anthony celebrated in Jerusalem


Concluding the Triduum  that the Franciscan community celebrated from 9 to 11 June, with the first vespers at St Saviour’s on 12 June and presided over by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Francesco Patton,  we have entered the real solemnity of St Anthony of Padua, patron saint and protector of the Custody.

The choice of Anthony as protector is linked to the special intercession that was asked of the saint in the face of the threat of the expulsion of the Franciscan friars of Italian origin from Jerusalem in 1917. St Anthony protected the order and on 13 June 1920, in front of the statue of the saint’s altar,  he was officially chosen as patron saint of the Custody.

There is always a very numerous and sincere participation in this feast-day by parishioners, faithful and religious.

Distribution of the bread

During the first vespers, recited in St Saviour’s church in Jerusalem, the Custos wanted to recall the meaning of the gesture of distributing the bread of St Anthony.  “This initiative,” he insisted, “popular and deeply rooted in the hearts of Christians at all latitudes because it is a simple and fundamental gesture, very similar to the most important gestureof Jesus: that of giving himself to us as the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. The Bread of St Anthony is not bread that we ask St Anthony for, but it is bread that we give with our grateful heart because we recognize that the Lord continues to a give us grace during our lives, through the intercession of this Saint who devoted himself entirely to the poor, he cared for them, defended them and evangelized them” ( you can find the full text here).

The Solemn Mass

The Custos, Fra Patton, even in the circumstances of the current conflict which continues to devastate this Land, wanted to reflect on the topic of peace: preaching peace and educating on peace.

“Anthony explains the “lances” that the devil sticks into man’s heart,” the Custos of the Holy Land began  ( you can find the full text here )  “Not wanting to trust in God and letting yourself be  pierced by three passions; the one that leads us to want to satisfy all our natural needs; the passion of arrogance that leads us to want to be like God to replace Him and the passion of avidity that leads us to believe that the more material goods we have, the freer and more independent we will be. All this prevents us from seeing our limits and our fragilities, and leads us to want to dominate others. The peace lost in Adam, however, is given back to us by Jesus Christ Risen, the new Adam,  and we experience this in the Easter meeting with him: Anthony’s reflections on the triple peace given by the Risen One remind us that peace is first of all a gift to be received. There is no peace without reconciliation; with God, with ourselves and with others as well.”

The prayer of consecration to St Anthony

At the end of the Mass, the Custos of the Holy Land pronounced, together with the whole of the assembly, the prayer of consecration of the Custody to St Anthony in front of the Saint’s statue.

Lastly, in the afternoon,  the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land gathered again in St Saviour’s church  for the prayer of the second Solemn Vespers (you can find the full text of Fra Francesco Patton's reflection here) also attended by  Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Silvia Giuliano