Happy feast day to St. Anthony of Padua, my first patron saint! Nine years ago, I was in Rome, and I guess at least one local festival was postponed until the following Sunday, June 17. I remember it well. Reggie’s Latin class had gone to Ostia for the day, but I needed to head back to Rome to make it to Mass; Reggie’s schedule made virtually no allowance for Mass. I wanted to go to the Latin Mass at San Gregorio dei Muratori, literally a hole in the wall church in the Campo Marzio.
To make it to Mass on time, I had to skip out of Ostia before our tour even reached the site where St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica, had their famous vision. The class was going to read St. Augustine’s account of the vision in his Confessions while standing at the very site where it occurred. And I left for Rome too late to make it to San Gregorio, or at least I foolishly missed my bus near the statue of Skanderbeg, and had to go to Mass at San Saba instead.
Skanderbeg. For St. Anthony, continue reading.
I was feeling kind of disappointed, doubly so, for missing both the reading of the vision and the Latin Mass. But as I headed back to my apartment in Monteverde Vecchio, my way up through Trastevere was blocked at the Franciscan church of Santa Dorotea, where they were celebrating St. Anthony. The men hoisted a statue of the saint holding the Christ Child on their shoulders three times, each time with the crowd cheering, then the band played the melody I know as “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.” Then they processed into the church, where people got to kiss the smooth metal foot of the statue and pray. On the wall was a little memorial of the time in the 1980s when Pope St. John Paul II, their own bishop, visited this forgotten nook of Rome.
Certainly not a church that appears in the tour guides, and their little deferred St. Anthony feast isn’t on the list of things to see in Rome. But I was happy to see it, and thanked God for his Providence. Here are photos of the procession: