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SRI LANKA - Thousands flock to venerate saint’s relic
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Thousands of Catholics and people of other faiths have venerated a relic of Saint Anthony of Padua days after it was flown into Colombo and placed in a shrine here.

Yesterday, the third day of public veneration, Catholics from different parishes including school children queued up in the early morning to catch a glimpse of the relic at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade.

“Saint Anthony, pray for us,” some devotees could be heard murmuring in Tamil and Sinhalese on the roadside, while others prayed the rosary.

Special shelters had been erected to protect the crowds from the sun.

“Be a great Catholic with deep faith in God and become a light to others like Saint Anthony,” Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo said to about 4,000 devotees at the Mass to welcome the relic on March 7 evening.

The prelate had arranged for the relic, a portion of the saint’s heart, to reach Sri Lanka to mark the Colombo shrine’s 175th anniversary.

Catholics had also expressed hope that Saint Anthony (1195-1231), who is venerated by people of various religions in Sri Lanka, would bring permanent peace to the country, now recovering from decades of civil war.

‘We need to forgive our enemies’

“As good Christians, we need to forgive our enemies,” Archbishop Ranjith said in his homily. “Let us learn from Saint Anthony in building up our own lives. This was the purpose of bringing the relic to Sri Lanka from Padua.”

Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, other bishops, priests, Religious and laypeople attended the Mass. The country’s First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and some politicians were also present.

Some devotees spoke to UCA News about their devotion to the saint.

Christina Fernando, a young mother who was seen carrying her little son, said the saint had answered her prayer for a child.

News of miracles experienced as a result of the saint’s intercession is “common here,” she said, adding that “his holy heart can inspire us to greater faith.”

Sanath Perera told UCA News he waited by the roadside for more than three hours just to catch a glimpse of the vehicle carrying the relic.

The relic will remain in the country for 16 days during which it will be taken to many Catholic shrines across the country.

Saint Anthony is known as the patron of the poor and travelers and is believed to help people find lost articles.

Special prayers to the saint are held every Tuesday in churches devoted to Saint Anthony in the country. These prayer sessions are usually crowded.






Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 @ 23:43:42 JST by admin

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