9.00 am Mass this Thursday, 13th June
ST. ANTHONY’S LILY.
A very beautiful and picturesque custom that forms parts of the ceremonies which take place on the Feast of St. Anthony is the ceremony of the blessing of St. Anthony’s lilies.
This custom was begun to commemorate a special manifestation of St. Anthony at Marcasso, in Corsica. During a revolution, the Franciscans were driven into exile. However, their chapel remained open and a public procession was made to it each year on June the 13th. For this occasion a temporary altar of St. Anthony was erected in the centre of the main aisle. Garlands of flowers were hung above the Saint’s head; at his feet were placed roses and other flowers, and lilies of spotless white stood out against a green background of laurel and myrtle.
On one occasion, the young man who had been appointed sacristan, neglected to remove the statue of St. Anthony at the end of the ceremonies. Several months later he went with a few helpers to the deserted chapel to complete his work. To their surprise they found the lilies fresh and white, whereas the other flowers were withered and dead.
A similar thing happened in Austria in 1680. On the Saint’s feast, a fresh-cut lily had been placed in one of the hands of his statue. For an entire year the flower remained as fresh and white as it was on the day it was put there. The next year the same stem bore two lilies, which filled the whole church with their fragrance. This fact was authenticated officially, and was looked upon as a heavenly testimony to the purity of the Saint.
Permission to bless lilies in honour of St. Anthony was given by Pope Leo XIII. Many miracles of healing have been obtained through St. Anthony’s intercession after applying a blessed lily.
Prayer Used in Blessing Lilies.
O God, Who art the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, the Lover of spotless purity, the Giver of all grace and everlasting life, sanctify by Thy holy benediction these lilies, which in thanksgiving, and in honour of St. Anthony, Thy Confessor, we present for Thy blessing.
Pour down upon them, by the sacred sign of the holy Cross, Thy heavenly dew, Thou Who didst so kindly create them to gladden man by their beauty and fragrance; enrich them with such power, that to whatsoever disease they may be applied, or in whatsoever home they may be kept, or on whatsoever person they may be borne with devotion, through the intercession of Thy servant, Anthony, they may cure every sickness, repel the attacks of Satan, preserve holy chastity, and bring peace and grace to all who serve Thee.