The veneration of the relics of great Saints is an opportunity to receive grace. It is not some guarantee of healing or assurance of entrance into heaven. These material remains of holy disciples point us toward God, they lift our eyes to Him through our acknowledgement of and respect for the witness that these men and women were to Christ.
If you have the opportunity to visit the relics of St. Anthony of Padua, which are currently circulating the UK, it would be a time of prayer with the greater Church in reverence to God who bestowed the fruits of His Spirit upon this great Doctor of the Church. The relics are traveling in the care of Fr. Mario Conte, the international editor of the Messenger of St. Anthony magazine, who said to The Catholic Herald, ‘It’s love that is the real meaning of a relic, a link of love between you and that person.’
St. Anthony, patron of lost things, lived during the 13th Century and was one of the earliest follows of St. Francis of Assisi. He became known for his great preaching and was a staunch defender against many of the heresies of his time, including against Manichaeism, a religion that ‘proclaimed that there were really two gods who created the universe, a good god and an evil god. All of history is the story of the combat between these deities. The material world was corrupt and thus must have been created by the evil god, while the spiritual world was pure and created by the good god’ (Anthony of Padua).
To pay a visit to St. Anthony’s relics is therefore a tribute to his work against Manichaeism, which denounces the material world. Many people dislike ‘the mixing of spirit and matter, the gift of something spiritual—grace—by means of physical things,’ but God created the material world, gifting us with bodies that are temples of the Holy Spirit (Catholic Answers).
Many have visited the relics already, which The Journal reported on yesterday. At St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Walker ‘queues of Catholics weaved their way around the church as coaches arrived with visitors from across the North of England.’ Although some may scoff at the idea of kissing the glass surrounding a relic, it is a sweet tradition in the Church and certainly the individuals at the church in Walker received gentle graces for their faithful reverence.
‘”If the clothes, the kerchiefs (Acts 19:12), if the shadow of the saints (Acts 5:15), before they departed from this life, banished diseases and restored strength, who will have the hardihood to deny that God wonderfully works the same by the sacred ashes, the bones, and other relics of the saints?”‘ (New Advent).