Christians and Hindus alike share a devotion to St. Anthony. The saint’s relics will be touring churches in the Toronto area from June 11-19. Register file photo by Michael Swan

St. Anthony a link in the interfaith chain

  • June 12, 2016

TORONTO – St. Anthony of Padua is known as the miracle worker saint. Many people ask for his intercession for the loss of material things, but also for loss of peace of mind or sense of direction. Those who seek his help are never lost, forgotten or left behind.

Pilgrims from across the Archdiocese of Toronto will once again have the opportunity to renew their devotion to St. Anthony as his relics travel to several churches starting June 11 at the Franciscan Church of St. Bonaventure in Toronto.

Thousands flock to see the relics every year and not all the visitors are Christian. Tamil priest Fr. Joseph Chandrakanthan said devotion to St. Anthony is also quite popular among Hindus. 

“Among the South Asian Tamil community, especially, and most specifically among the Hindu community, the Shaivite community, those who worship the god Shiva,” he said. “They are very generous to any shrine or chapel or church that is dedicated to St. Anthony.”

Chandrakanthan said it is a common tradition for Hindus and Shaivites to visit churches and place gifts at the foot of St. Anthony’s statue. People seek out St. Anthony because they see him as an advocate for their prayers, too. He said he has seen this happen in Sri Lanka, India and here in Canada.

“After the (Sri Lankan) war, there was a greater devotion to St. Anthony at that time because he is seen as one who is most helpful when you are totally helpless,” said Chandrakanthan. “It’s at that time that they go to St. Anthony and they find it gives them consolation and hope.”

In a way, Chandrakanthan said, devotion to St. Anthony has given Christians and non-Christians a common link, especially in South Asia where Christians are in the minority. 

St. Anthony’s relics will be travelling to parishes in Toronto and the surrounding region from June 11-19. The relics will be visiting St. Marguerite D’Youville Church in Brampton, St. Mark’s Church in Stouffville, St. Clare of Assisi Church in Woodbridge and St. Francis Xavier Church in Mississauga.

For more information, call Anna Marziliano at (416) 690-9904.

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