To take a pilgrimage in Italy, with all its splendor and distractions, requires focus. It is well worth it though. I spent an amazing six hours in Padova, Italy. (Padua in English) Four of those hours were visiting the Basilica of St. Anthony. (Sant’ Antonio) Four hours was not long enough. I repeat, four hours was not long enough to visit this Basilica. I needed more time.
Soooo…. clearly that means I must make a return trip. 🙂
When you walk into the Basilica you are *gently* reminded that no cameras are allowed inside the Basilica. One of the door guards reminded a woman so gently that he pushed the top of her camera down until it was pointing to the floor and repeated “NO” in as many languages as he knew. I conceded at that point. In case you forget, there are ‘minders’ around the church to remind you. This is the outside of the Basilica.
When you walk inside, the remains (well, most of them) of St. Anthony are housed off to the left. You can’t miss it. I got into line to walk around his tomb and pray in the small area they have set up for that purpose. The saddest thing you will ever see is just before and just after the tomb. Remember how I told you that St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items and lost people? There are bins you can leave a prayer request and bulletin boards you to which you can pin photos. From what I can tell, there were scores of photos from parents with missing children. Some went back decades and decades, long before I was born. I imagine the bulletin boards are replaced regularly considering how many people were there mid-day on a Monday. My prayers are with those heartbroken parents. I hope their children are returned to them.
Just after I got into the line around the tomb, Mass began. Mass seemed to be every 2 hours though the website has it listed differently. Either way, you will get a chance to attend. Walking around the back of the tomb; you are able to run your hand along it, cry, or pray. You will probably do all of the above. Just as it was in Biblical times, it is still a great treasure to be amongst the relics of such holy saints. Once you reach the other side, there are a few pews in the front of the tomb where you have the opportunity to pray a while longer. Outside of the line, there are also steps that lead up close to the tomb you can kneel and pray on if you wish. For me, this was a time of great cleansing of personal weights I had been carrying. I was able to make my petitions in person if you will, and came away with a great peace. If you have a personal devotion to St. Anthony, I highly recommend making the trip.
The rest of the Basilica houses a large collection of relics and other holy treasures, several smaller chapels, a multimedia… film…thing… if you are short on time just skip it, a beautiful courtyard, a gift shop, and a small museum. I recommend everything except the multimedia experience. That was just odd. Look around before you go with their virtual tour.
A few shots of the courtyard:
No photos are allowed in the actual Basilica but the attendant at the museum said “Not so much” when I asked if photos were allowed. “Not so much” is practically permission in American English, right? I couldn’t help myself. This is a rendering of what St. Anthony looked like in person!
That alone was worth the trip.