Pope Francis sent a letter to the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI. It was dated February 15, 2020, and was sent on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the entrance of St Anthony of Padua into Franciscan religious life.
After a brief historical summary of Fernando’s journey from Lisbon, starting from his encounter with the Franciscan Protomartyrs in Coimbra until his arrival in Padua, the Pontiff exhorted the friars of the Order, and all Franciscans, to use this anniversary as a time to seek the restlessness that St. Anthony himself experienced, a restlessness which prompted him to proclaim the Gospel and preach the love of neighbor.
Pope Francis considers St. Anthony to be, above all, an example for young people, because his Gospel insights are always current and inspire reflection in anyone discerning a vocation. Finally, the Pope invites us, like St. Anthony, to “see the Lord” in the faces of all our brothers and sisters and offer them consolation and hope.
Office of Communications
To the Most Reverend Father
Carlos Alberto TROVARELLI
of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual
I was pleased to learn that this Order shall be joyfully celebrating the Eighth Centenary of the Franciscan vocation of St. Anthony of Padua. Eight hundred years ago, in Coimbra, Fernando, a young member of the Augustinian Canons Regular and a native of Lisbon, learned of the martyrdom of five Franciscans who were killed because of the Christian faith, in Morocco, on January 16 of that year. He decided to turn his life around.
He left his homeland and set out on a journey, a symbol of his spiritual journey of conversion. First he went to Morocco, courageously determined to experience the Gospel in the footsteps of the Franciscan friars who had been martyred there. Then he landed in Sicily after being shipwrecked on the Italian coast, an event which happens to so many our brothers and sisters today. From Sicily, God’s providential plan led him to meet up with St. Francis of Assisi on the roads of Italy and France. Finally, he moved to Padua, a city which will always be linked in a special way with his name and where his body is preserved.
I hope that this significant anniversary will arouse, especially in the Franciscan Religious and the devotees of St. Anthony around the world, the desire to experience the same holy restlessness that prompted St. Anthony to travel the roads of the world bearing witness, through word and deed, to the love of God. May his example of sharing in the difficulties of families, the poor and disadvantaged, as well as his passion for truth and justice, still arouse in us today a generous commitment to give of ourselves as a sign of fraternity. I am thinking most of all about the young: this saint, so ancient and yet so modern and brilliant in his insights, can be a model for new generations to follow, so that their journey may be made fruitful.
I associate myself spiritually with all those who shall participate, through prayer and charity, in the various initiatives being promoted for this Eighth Antonian Centenary. I hope that all of you may be able to say, along with St. Anthony: “I see my Lord!” We must “see the Lord” in the faces of all our brothers and sisters and offer them consolation, hope and the opportunity to encounter the Word of God, upon which they may anchor their lives.
With these sentiments, while asking you to pray also for me, I cordially send my Apostolic Blessing to the Family of Friars Minor Conventual and to all those who are inspired by the spirituality of St. Anthony of Padua.
Rome, St. John Lateran, February 15, 2020.
© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Il testo originale è in italiano.