On March 5, 2020, the website of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy) published the Pastoral Letter from the Most Reverend Virgilio DO NASCIMENTO ANTUNES, Bishop of Coimbra, Portugal, on the Jubilee of St. Anthony and the Franciscan Protomartyrs.
First, the Letter thanks Pope Francis for granting this Jubilee Year, which is being celebrated as the Holy Year of St. Anthony of Lisbon and the Franciscan Protomartyrs (Martyrs of Morocco) from January 12, 2020, to January 17, 2021, in Coimbra, Portugal. The event commemorates the arrival of the relics of the five Franciscan friar-martyrs who had been sent to North Africa by St. Francis of Assisi, the priestly ordination of St. Anthony and his entrance into the Franciscan Order.
After giving a brief biography on St. Anthony, Bishop DO NASCIMENTO ANTUNES went on to write that although St. Anthony of Padua is known around the world, we need to “rediscover, in his person, words and testimony of life, inspiration for today’s Church and society, always looking for new ways of realization, anchored in solid and lasting foundations.”
The Pastoral Letter provided a brief explanation of the iconography of St. Anthony, which sometimes underlies his characteristic evangelical spirit.
Bishop DO NASCIMENTO ANTUNES focused mainly on five challenges that the Jubilee presents to each baptized person:
1) First, there is the Challenge of Evangelization: we must learn from Saint Anthony, whose style was not to fight against anyone, but to vigorously propose the message of Christ;
2) The Challenge of Spirituality: the true witness of Christ and his Gospel includes one’s willingness to give his life in martyrdom;
3) The Challenge of Cultural Renewal: The Holy Doctor teaches us the art of searching for truth based on the encounter between faith and reason, in dialogue with those who think differently and with respect for all;
4) The Challenge of Vocation: St. Anthony’s calling helps us to listen to young people, in keeping with the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, and to encourage them to discover what the Lord Jesus has sown in their hearts;
5) The Challenge of Popular Devotion: Every year, countless faithful participate in the feasts dedicated to St. Anthony. On these occasions, we must strive to increase their faith, their love of God and their own sanctification.
In conclusion, Bishop DO NASCIMENTO ANTUNES invited everyone to pray for the Church and for the whole world, asking for the intercession of St. Anthony and the Franciscan Protomartyrs.
You can find the full text of the letter [in Italian or Portuguese] at:
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