Feast Of St. Anthony
Every year, June 13th is celebrated in Ceuta, Spain as San Antonio. Also known as Romeria de San Antonio (The Day of Saint Anthony) or as the Feast of Saint Anthony, this day commemorates Saint Anthony’s death on this date in 1231. In the autonomous community of Ceuta, this day is a public holiday — which means that government offices, schools, and most businesses are closed for the day or operate on a holiday schedule.
It’s a day for people to attend church services, and attend parades that feature the iconography of this saint. It’s also a day when communal meals are held in this city, to celebrate Saint Anthony’s good works.
The History Of San Antonio In Ceuta, Spain
Anthony of Padua was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal on August 15th, 1195. He was born into a very wealthy noble family who enrolled him at a local cathedral school. He would then enter the Augustinian community of Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross at the Abbey of Saint Vincent in 1210 at the age of 15.
He attended the school for two years but asked to be transferred to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Coimbra to avoid being distracted by frequent visits from members of his family. While he was there, he immersed himself in monastic life — studying Latin and theology.
He would become ordained a priest at the age of 19 and was placed in charge of hospitality for the abbey, but he didn’t stay there very long. Inspired by the example of the five Franciscans who had been beheaded in Morroco on account of their faith, Fernando would ask church authorities for permission to leave the Canons Regular and join the new Franciscan order that had established a hermitage outside of Coimbra.
He would be accepted into the friars and joined the hermitage that was located in Olivais. Once there, he would adopt the name Anthony and he would be known by that name ever since. Over the course of his life, Anthony would work to alleviate the suffering of the poor and those who had been marginalized by society.
He was known for not only helping to feed the poor but was also said to be able to perform miracles — the most notable being healing the sick. He is also well known for his impressive ability to preach the Gospel to people, as well as his ability to convert non-believers to Christianity.
In 1231, Anthony would become sick with ergotism and would end up traveling to the retreat at Camposampiero for a respite. On his way back to Padua, he would end up dying on June 13th, 1231 at the Poor Clare monastery located at Arcella. He was only 35 years old. On May 30th, 1232, Pope Gregory IX would canonize Anthony.
Today, he is especially revered as the patron saint for recovering lost items, the poor and oppressed, pregnant women, Brazil, and Portugal. Of course, he is also recognized as the patron saint of Ceuta, Spain.
Observing Saint Antonio in Ceuta, Spain
This holiday is celebrated in both the Spanish autonomous city of Ceuta, as well as the coastal capital city of Portugal, Lisbon. In both cities, this day is celebrated with special church services and a parade.
During the parade, a statue of Saint Anthony is carried through the streets. In Ceuta, there is also a communal meal that is used to feed the poor. On social media, the hashtag #RomeriaDeSanAntonio can be used to spread the word about this holiday.