Relics of St. Anthony of Padua will be visiting two locations in the Diocese of Trenton, the first of which will be St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Courtesy photo

Relics of St. Anthony of Padua will be visiting two locations in the Diocese of Trenton, the first of which will be St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Courtesy photo

By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor

Days of devotion with opportunities to venerate holy relics of St. Anthony of Padua will be available in two locations in the Diocese of Trenton during October.

The relics, traveling on a 10-day tour from Padua, Italy, to several parishes in northern New Jersey, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., will also include a daylong visit Oct. 10 to St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, and a morning visit Oct. 12 to the Monastery of St. Clare in Chesterfield.

Msgr. Sam Sirianni, rector of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, who noted that the relics’ visit is regarded as a diocesan event, said he hopes visitors will make their day one of deep devotion. He encourages all to attend and to seek St. Anthony’s intercession for a renewal of faith.

“Ask St. Anthony to help us all find hope, good priests and courage to support the Holy Father,” he said, and no doubt “it is through our prayers that we will keep St. Anthony very busy.”

The day will begin at 9 a.m. with Mass, at which time the relics will be carried into church. Veneration of the relics will begin after Mass and continue until noon, when there will be a recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Veneration will continue throughout the afternoon and early evening until the celebration of Mass at 7 p.m. Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., is expected to be present for the visitation of the relics. The Co-Cathedral is located at 61 Georgia Road, Freehold.

Msgr. Sirianni said that one of the reliquaries contains the saint’s floating rib and is the same reliquary that was used by Pope Francis – then-Archbishop Bergoglio – to bless the faithful after the solemn Mass at the Catedral Metropolitana in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 30, 2000. The reliquary had also been kissed in 1995 by Sister Lucia of Fatima when it was taken to the nuns at the Monastery of Carmelite sisters in Coimbra, Portugal, during the commemoration of the 800th anniversary of St. Anthony’s birth.

Msgr. Sirianni explained that the process for bringing the relics to St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral was initiated by a member of his staff who has a deep devotion to St. Anthony of Padua, who is popularly known as being the patron saint of lost objects as well as for persons who are trying to find a job, housing, faith, love, hope, harmony within the family, good health, peace of mind and mercy. After the staff member informed Msgr. Sirianni that the relics would be touring parishes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Msgr. Sirianni inquired to Bishop O’Connell about the possibility of the Co-Cathedral being added as one of the tour’s locations. The Bishop approved and submitted the necessary paperwork.

Msgr. Sirianni cited a number of reasons why he is looking forward to hosting the relics at the Co-Cathedral, one being personal.

“I was named after my father’s father, Santo, which was changed to Sam when he came to America,” Msgr. Sirianni explained. “My father’s name was Antonio, Anthony. So my birth certificate has Sam Anthony, but my baptismal certificate has Santo Antonio.” 

“Then, there is also the role that St. Anthony plays in my life and the life of my family,” he continued, noting that his brother, who is a priest in the Metuchen Diocese, has Anthony as his first name. Plus, his grandmother was born June 13, the Feast of St. Anthony. As a priest, Msgr. Sirianni said he also had the privilege of praying at the birthplace of St. Anthony in Lisbon, Portugal, and in Padua where the saint is buried.

In Chesterfield, Poor Clare Sister Etta Patton, abbess of the Monastery of St. Clare, noted that it was a friar friend of the Poor Clare Sisters who helped arrange for the monastery to host the relics Oct. 12 visit.

“It’s a privilege,” she said, noting how St. Anthony “is a very popular saint, a very holy saint. And he’s a Franciscan to boot!”

The monastery, located at 150 White Pine Road, will be open for veneration from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. During those hours, visitors are welcome to pray before the relics; there will be no special prayer services or celebration of Masses. Sister Etta said those planning to attend should notify the monastery by Oct. 10 at 609-324-2638.