*Every year, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church sponsors the traditional Feast of St. Anthony. This feast is one of the most memorable religious festivals in the neighborhood known as “the real Little Italy,” the Bronx. The Feast of St. Anthony takes place in the Belmont section of the Bronx and runs for three days during early to mid-June. Nightly concerts, “Street food”, carnival rides, games, raffles, and a nightly casino in the lower level of Mt Carmel Church are among the many entertainment choices to this beloved festival.*
Now some people may wonder why Saint Anthony is worth celebrating. Well...
**Anthony was born in 1195 near Lisbon, and given the name Ferdinand. He was sent to the cathedral school in Lisbon, but at the age of 15 he joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. He moved to Coimbra, near Lisbon, and in the next eight years he devoted himself to study of theology and scripture.**
**After a group of Franciscan martyrs whom Ferdinand had briefly met where returning to Coimbra as martyrs, Ferdinand was determined to become a missionary and a martyr. He left the Augustinians to join the Franciscan Order. He got permission to go to Morocco as a missionary, but he got ill and return home. He was stationed in a small hideaway in Italy, where he prayed, studied, and carried out humble duties.**
**One day, the preacher at an ordination ceremony didn't show up. No one else was prepared to speak, and the job was given to Ferdinand, now known as Anthony. The people gathered were amazed by Anthony's knowledge of scripture and theology and his skill as a speaker. He was soon appointed as a traveling preacher. In the next few years he travelled throughout Italy and France. A major viewpoint of his preaching was to combat the heresies of the day. He also criticized weakness and corruption in the clergy and greed and tyranny in society. Anthony also became the first friar to teach theology to the other friars.**
**During Lent in 1231, Anthony was preaching in Padua. After Easter, Anthony set out with two companions for a friend's estate near the city. On the way, they made Anthony a cell in a walnut tree by putting together the branches. Later that spring he died, on the way back to Padua. **
**Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and sent in a new and surprising direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one's life completely over to Christ. God did with Anthony as he pleased - and what he pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today.**
*The highlight of the festival includes a three-hour long procession, which falls on a closing Sunday. A Statue of St. Anthony is carried above the crowd, marching in procession to honor the saint, while the statue winds its way through the neighborhood.*