This morning we left our Mestre hotel, the Ambasciatori, for a stop in Padua and a tour of the Basilica of St. Anthony, before driving through Tuscany to our destination in Florence.
Padua is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua’s population is 214,000 (as of 2011). It hosts the renowned University of Padua, almost 800 years old, and famous, among other things, for having had Galileo Galilei among its lecturers. Padua was the scene for most of the action in William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. The most famous of the Paduan churches is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio da Padova, locally known as “Il Santo”. The bones of St. Anthony rest in a chapel richly ornamented with carved marbles. View a Youtube video of the basilica: Click Here
The reason St. Anthony’s help is invoked for finding things lost or stolen is traced to an incident that occurred in Bologna. According to the story, Anthony had a book of psalms that was of some importance to him as it contained the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching his students. A novice who had decided to leave took the psalter with him. Prior to the invention of the printing press, any book was an item of value. Upon noticing it was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned. The thief was moved to restore the book to Anthony and return to the Order. The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.
Various legends surround the death of Anthony. One holds that when he died, the children cried in the streets and that all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord. Another legend regards his tongue. Anthony is buried in a chapel within the large basilica built to honor him, where his tongue is displayed for veneration in a large reliquary along with his jaw and his vocal cords. When his body was exhumed thirty years after his death, it was found turned to dust, but the tongue was claimed to have glistened and looked as if it was still alive and moist; apparently a further claim was made that this was a sign of his gift of preaching. On 1 January 1981 Pope John Paul II authorized a scientific team to study the saint’s remains and the tomb was opened on 6 January. The scientific team confirmed the validity of St. Anthony’s tongue