This year, the 14th Annual Antonian June Festival honoring St. Anthony of Padua will be mainly celebrated “on air” through social media and interactive websites. Special features of the festival will include the relics of the Saint taking a helicopter flight, a new web portal dedicated to June 13, various Franciscan social networks and a live broadcast by the Rete Veneta Television Network.
The program for Antonian June 2020 was almost finalized back in February. It was to be a month of religious events and celebrations in honor of the most beloved saint in the world. However, even Padua’s traditional festival of religious events and celebrations honoring St. Anthony had to come to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has turned our lives upside-down in recent months, forcing us to rethink our habits and our long-held values, to say nothing of its effect on our faith and affections.
Eight hundred years ago, life was turned upside-down for Fernando, a young Portuguese Augustinian canon. In 1220, after meeting some friar-followers of Francis of Assisi, he decided to put on the Franciscan habit himself. He changed his baptismal name, left the comforts and security of the Santa Cruz Abbey and responded to this new call from God by plunging right in with everything he had.
St. Anthony’s “reboot”, was obviously not just spiritual; it brought about radical changes in his life, just as the pandemic has done to ours.
This year, we celebrate an important anniversary commemorating St. Anthony’s entrance into Franciscan religious life. The anniversary is being ideally boosted by the Antonian June and “Tredicina” of 2020 events which were presented to the press on Monday, May 25.
From May 31 to June 21, the Basilica of St. Anthony will feature the “Tredicina” [a thirteen-day novena to St. Anthony of Padua], the feast day of St. Anthony and other events at the Basilica, ending with a concert to honor St. Anthony, performed by the Solisti Veneti Orchestra, all streamed live on the Internet, social media and TV. People will also be admitted to the Basilica and the Tomb of the Saint, using various entrances and routes, in keeping with health security and social distancing guidelines.
On the Solemnity of St. Anthony, Padua will receive a blessing by having the Saint’s relics flown over the city by helicopter. For the sake of public health, this method is being used to replace the traditional procession that normally brings tens of thousands of devotees to Padua every year.
The image chosen for the 14th Annual Antonian June Festival depicts the moment when Anthony received the Franciscan habit, the symbol of his new vocation. This year marks the 800th anniversary of that event.
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Facebook: Giugno Antoniano