Saint Anthony: from Coimbra to the whole world

Lisbon, Coimbra, Assisi, Padua: all places that preserve the memory of St. Anthony, the devotion for which he conquered the world.

The year 2020 is marked by the great jubilee for the 800th anniversary of the martyrdom of the first five Franciscan friars in Morocco and the Franciscan vocation of Anthony, who was then called Fernando Bulhões.

The martyrdom of these friars was a provocation for Anthony, which led him to a change of life.

“Today the provocation of the martyrs continues to be for us something very strong, important, because it puts mediocrity in crisis, we are often mediocre in living the commitments of Christian life, in living the commitments of consecration and of ministry.”

Going up the slopes of the Alfama, in the historical centre of Lisbon, you will find the crypt built on the place where Saint Anthony was born. The church was built on the cave, and the present construction dates back to 1767.

Saint Anthony, born in Lisbon in 1195, died in Padua when he was only 36 years old.

The writings on the Custody of the Holy Land testify to a constant devotion to the Saint throughout history. The choice to name him patron saint dates back to the First World War. After the war, in 1920, with Pope Benedict XV, Saint Anthony officially became the protector of the Custody and on June 13, the day dedicated to Saint Anthony, became a solemnity.

BR NARCYZ KLIMAS OFM, Prof. History of the Church and of the Custody of the Holy Land:
“To confirm these events, we have our chronicles of the Custody of the Holy Land that describe in detail all the steps, the difficult situations, the intervention, how the friars behaved in the face of danger. It is a memory of this event that remains with us. From 1920 to the present day, every year we celebrate this feast.”

Br. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, presided at Mass in the Church of Saint Saviour, together with the friars of the Custody, in the presence of a small number of faithful. “100 years later we are still here today to say thank you to Saint Anthony – stressed the Custos – who continues to intercede for us with the Most High, Almighty and Good Lord. A protection invoked in truly difficult times and which has led to a new flowering”.

“At that time, 100 years ago, we know there had been a terrible war, the First World War with more than 20 million dead; there had been the Spanish flu, with another 50 million dead; the Custody was at risk because several times they had tried to expel the friars, the convent of Saint Savior, in which we find ourselves today, had to be blown up. And instead, after this storm, the Custody experienced a moment of great flowering.

I hope that after this phase of great difficulty, which presumably will last at least a year, there will be a new flowering, starting from the return of the pilgrims, from a new awareness of the local Christians and of what it means to be Christians of the Holy Land. And perhaps, starting from new attention of the world to this reality, which is the reality of the Middle East.”



See also for information about the Jubilee of the Martyrs of Morocco and Saint Anthony.