Reflection by: Evagelin

Chronicles of a pilgrim – Day 13 – Florence/Padua

#sequelachristi2023

Day 13 kicked off with a gruelling 4-hour bus ride to the enchanting city of Padua, renowned for its mystical patron saint, none other than the miraculous St. Anthony. As a globally celebrated figure, a beacon of miracles both during his lifetime and beyond, he is our go-to saint when something precious goes missing in our lives. Now, let me share a personal touch – St. Anthony was my first introduction to the world of saints. A true confidant, he’s the one we reach out to when we misplace something valuable. Those Tuesday devotions dedicated to St. Anthony and the anticipation of indulging in the blessed “St. Anthony bread” afterward left indelible marks on my memory. So, as you can imagine, the visit to the Basilica today was nothing short of an exhilarating experience! 

While I expected visiting the place to be impactful, what really impacted me was the web of events that took place prior to the visit. During the bus ride, our bus stopped briefly at a checkpoint for a break. Unfortunately when it was time to ride again, there was a miscount of numbers and we had left two young pilgrims stranded at the checkpoint, one of them being my roommate. The bus had to uturn for a good 30 mins before being able to pick them up. At that juncture, I remembered the previous day’s gospel reading of the lost sheep, where Jesus tells us that he will seek out the lost one even if it means to leave the 99 behind. While the two pilgrims were tense in their await, the pilgrims on the bus were joyful to get the lost ones back. This event made me realise how much Jesus will rejoice in heaven when we find our way back to him as well as how much being accountable for one another in our faith journey is important. This ties in with today’s gospel of the ten bridesmaids and their oil lamps. It’s our responsibility to check for the ‘oil’, our faith, whether we have run out or if we need more. It is indeed hard for faith to be always prioritised and consistent. Yet, I learnt throughout this pilgrimage that our sufferings and thirst for knowledge en route us back to Faith. Oftentimes we find it difficult to discern the path that God has planned out for us due to the hurdles we face. St Anthony, initially being an Augustinian Priest left that order and joined the Franciscan, coming to love the Franciscan virtues and the dream to become a martyr. By his life, we learn that God had other plans for him. His dream of becoming a martyr was never fulfilled, yet his heroic preaching and miracles conquered many hearts throughout the world. The Romanesque architecture, reliquary and the tomb of  St Anthony, Chapel of the Eucharist and the awesome statue of St Anthony lifting baby Jesus in the air were my favourite spots in the Basilica I enjoyed praying and spending my time at. 

Losing your way back to God or in loss of precious items, don’t worry St Anthony’s got your back!