Retablo Series. Saint Anthony de Padua
The wooden santo de bulto of Saint Anthony of Padua is located on the second level, central niche of the Gospel altar or left wing of the Silang Church. The polychrome statue is depicted in Franciscan brown habit holding the Child Jesus in light blue with his left arm. He is commonly known and venerated as the patron saint for lost items.
According to an old story, St. Anthony was “invited to preach at the funeral of a usurer, he took for his text the words of the Gospel: “Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart.” In the course of the sermon he said: “That rich man is dead and buried in hell; but go to his treasures and there you will find his heart.” The relatives and friends of the deceased, led by curiosity, followed this injunction, and found the heart, still warm, among the coins. Thus the triumph of St. Anthony’s missionary career manifests itself not only in his holiness and his numerous miracles, but also in the popularity and subject matter of his sermons, since he had to fight against the three most obstinate vices of luxury, avarice and tyranny.” (Dal-Gal 1907)
He died in 1232 and was declared by Pope Gregory IX as the “Ark of the Covenant” given his profound knowledge of the scriptures. Thus, his image is always presented holding the New Testament’s realization of the Covenant—Jesus Christ and may we, like St. Anthony, hold Jesus closer to our hearts.
Another parish church in Silang was constructed in Pooc, one of Silang’s oldest barangays, in honor of St. Anthony de Padua. This is perhaps an honor to the order of Franciscans who earlier arrived in the barrio for the mission and later settled the early church of Silang before the Jesuits.
Sources: Dal-Gal, Niccolò. “St. Anthony of Padua.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. Photo credit. Gospel Altar of Silang from the Filipinas Heritage Library.