A DUBLIN church hosted the relics of St Anthony of Padua yesterday.
The Church of the Visitation in Dublin's Fairview was packed as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin concelebrated Mass with the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, and Fr Mario Conte, who is accompanying the relics – a small piece of bone from the Saint's rib and a layer of St Anthony's cheek skin – around six venues in Ireland.
The Padua-based Franciscan friar, said the relics of the saint, who died in 1231, brought a message of hope to all those in Ireland who have been badly affected by the recession.
"St Anthony was a person who knew the difficulties people had economically," he said.
"In Padua in the 13th century there was a lot of desperation," he said.
"People were resorting to money lenders to survive.
"Anthony was on the side of the poor."
"He was tough. He battled and challenged those who took advantage of the little people, especially the old people and women."
After Mass, hundreds of devotees, from the elderly to young boy scouts, waited in line to venerate the relic contained in a gold reliquary of the Saint, one of the most popular in the Catholic Church.
One of these devotees was Martin Jim McFadden (50) who travelled with his wife, Liz for five hours by bus from beyond Letterkenny in Co Donegal to reach Dublin, especially for the occasion.
Explaining why he was willing to undertake a 10-hour round trip to venerate the relics, he attributed meeting his wife Liz to the intervention of the saint.
Liz said: "There has always been a third person in our marriage – St Anthony."
St Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195 and is one of the Catholic Church's most popular saints.
He is the patron saint of lost and stolen articles and was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher.
His remains were originally buried at Sancta Maria Mater Domini Church in Padua. The remains were later moved, in 1263, to the current Basilica in Padua.
The 2013 tour will see the relics visit Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, back to Dublin and finally Belfast before they cross to Britain. Today they are in St Francis Friary, Wexford Town, with a veneration from 2.30pm to 5pm and later from 8pm to 9pm. Mass will be at 7pm.
On Saturday they will visit the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Merchants Quay with Mass at noon and 5.30pm.
On Sunday they will visit the Holy Trinity Church in Cork with Mass at 12.30pm, followed by vernation until 8.30pm.
On Monday they will be brought to the Cathedral in Limerick with Mass at 10am and 7pm and veneration in between.
The next day they will be at Galway Cathedral for 11am mass, followed by veneration and mass at 6pm.
On Wednesday they will return to Dublin to St Mary's of the Angels on Church St with veneration at 3.30pm and mass at 7.30pm.