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Bangladesh Church marks Saint Anthony of Padua’s feast

A devotee takes blessing from the statue of St. Anthony of Padua at Cathuly village in Bangladesh on May 13, 2022. (Photo by Nikhil Gomes / RVA News)

Bangladesh’s most popular Catholic pilgrimage was held at Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Cathuly village under Mothurapur Parish in Rajshahi diocese and also at Panjora village of Gazipur district in the Archdiocese of Dhaka on May 13. 
The feast of the miraculous Portuguese Saint falls on June 13 but in Cathuly village in Bangladesh, it is celebrated during February’s favorable weather encourages pilgrims.
St. Anthony of Padua’s feast is attended by people of all faith backgrounds in Bangladesh. Novena prayers, candle lighting, Mass and other forms of giving honor to St. Anthony are held from May 4 ahead of the pilgrimage.
Bishop Gervas Rozario presided over the Mass at Cathuly village. 
"It is an ancient church tradition in martyrdom to show devotion, respect and reverence to the saints,” he said. “The main purpose is to gain God's favor by praying through them. The saints always help us. They bring us grace from God. That is why we have immense faith, honor and devotion towards them.”
Saint Antony was a pious, faithful and possessor of miraculous powers. Many believers have been rewarded by praying through him," said the bishop.  

One of the non-Christians gave the faith witness saying, the family was unable to have a baby during their 14 years of marriage. The wife had five miscarriages in a row, though she had several medical consultations.  
One day, the couple heard from one of his well-wishers about Saint Anthony's amazing work. They decide to come to the St. Anthony's shrine and begged for his intercession to have a baby with deep faith.
The couple said, "What a surprise! The very next month, she conceived. Now, they come to the pilgrimage every year and express their hope and thanks in a heart full of faith.” 
Saguri Gomes, one of St. Anthony’s devotees said, "Anthony is a great saint. His qualities cannot be written off. He was endowed with all virtues. No one returned empty-handed after praying to him.”
"Many people of other religions have received many blessings and favors from Saint Anthony because of their deep faith,” said Saguri Gomes.

Saint Antony of Padua was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born on August 15, 1195, and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy on June 13, 1231. 

Pope Gregory IX canonized him on 30 May 1232 at Spoleto, Italy. 

People attend the Mass

Parish priest Father Shishir Gregory said, "Saint Anthony of Padua is one of the most loved saints of the Bangladeshi people.”
In the Catholic Church, devotion and reverence to saints are important aspects of Christian spirituality. The universal call of every baptized person is to be a saint, he explained. 
The priest thanked all who contributed their talents and hard work to make the event a fruitful celebration. 
In Muslim-majority Bangladesh with a population of more than 160 million, Christians account for less than half a percent of the population. Yet St. Anthony of Padua has been overwhelmingly popular among Christians as well as Muslims and Hindus.
St. Anthony of Padua is fabled as a miraculous saint in Bangladesh and every year thousands of pilgrims flock to the shrine during the annual feast. 
This year, 17 priests, 15 nuns from different congregations, and about 3,000 Christians attended the pilgrimage. – Nikhil Gomes 


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