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Saint Anthony Catholic Church and School
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This beautiful parish church has been placed under the patronage of Saint Anthony of Padua who was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in the year 1195. At the age of twenty-six, he joined the Franciscan order (Saint Francis himself was still alive) in hopes of becoming a missionary and perhaps even a martyr. Instead, he was recognized as a fine scholar and teacher, and a brilliant preacher. His friendship and solicitude for the poor and oppressed eventually won him the title of "Patron of the Poor." He also gained a reputation for working miracles even in his lifetime for which reason he is often invoked, for example to help in recovering lost articles. It was none of those things, however, that gained him the greatest fame. He was so well-known for his personal holiness that he was formally recognized by the Church as a saint of God only a year after his death on June 13, 1231. A statue representing our patron can be found in the narthex of the Church.

The windows of St. Anthony's are designed to focus our attention on the great mysteries of our salvation. The windows of faceted glass over the main doors represent the sacrifices of the Old Testament through which God entered into a covenant with His people. Viewed from the inside, on the left we see the knife, sticks of wood and fire which Abraham, our father in faith brought with him when he was asked by God to offer in sacrifice Isaac, his only son. On the right are the Passover lamb and the tablets of the law signifying the Exodus from Egypt and God's covenant with His people through the Law of Moses.

We pass from the sacrifices of the Old Law to the sanctuary area where we find the altars: the place of offering of the Eucharist of Christ, the sacrifice of the New Law. The altar, symbolizing Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God in the midst of his spiritual family, the Church. Behind this are two more windows of faceted glass. On the right is the world nestled in the creative hands of the Father. To the left is the Spirit of God, descending like a dove upon his people. In the center at the right hand of the Father hangs a representation of Jesus, the Son of God, crucified, as a constant reminder to us that as long as any member of the Body of Christ is still in pain, the whole body suffers and Christ's crucifixion is not yet ended.

Behind the altar, in the sanctuary, the tabernacle for reservation of the Eucharistic Body of Christ continues in its design the theme of the victorious Lamb of God from the Book of Revelation. From the Eucharistic presence of Christ, our attention is drawn to the ambo where the open Bible reminds us of God's presence, also, in His Word. In the far left of the sanctuary is the baptismal font, indicating the presence of the Spirit of the Risen Lord in the Church, the community of baptized believers.

The stained glass windows in the nave of the church express her sacramental life. Beginning with the nave window to the right of the door exiting to the East of the church, we find Christ the Lord of the universe, the Sacrament of God par excellence. Moving clockwise, we are presented with the Lord’s baptism by John in the Jordan, symbolizing our baptism. Next are the apostles at Pentecost, image of the gift of the Spirit in Confirmation. Finally, there is the multiplication of the loaves and fish, sign of the Bread of Life given in the Eucharist. These three sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are together, the sacraments of Christian initiation, the sacraments of entry into communion with the Church, the Body of Christ.

On the opposite side, the west side of the nave, closest to the reconciliation rooms, is the scene of the sinful woman anointing the feet of Jesus who declares that she is forgiven. This represents Christ’s forgiveness offered us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The next window, again clockwise, shows the Lord healing a paralytic as a sign of his healing power given us in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The following window portrays the Lord calling the fisherman to follow Him as He continues to call men to the special role of priestly service in His church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Finally, the depiction of the wedding feast of Cana is a reminder that in the sacrament of Matrimony, the vocation to married life and love becomes a living sign of Christ’s love in and for His bride, the Church.

The three windows in the Chapel are reminders of the mysteries of Christ’s life. The Holy Family reminds us of the joyful mysteries surrounding Christ’s birth and early life. The crucifixion reminds us of the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s redemptive suffering and death. Finally, the resurrection scene is a reminder of Christ’s conquering sin and death and His glorification with the Father. On the far opposite side, in the choir section of the church, we find the “living Gospels” of our country: the three American saints. They are St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, St. John Neumann, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

In the sacristy, behind the Chapel, we have place a window commemorating Mary under the title of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help.” For those unfamiliar with Byzantine iconography, the Christ child has run into the arms of His mother with such abandon that one of his sandals is almost lost. On either side of him are the symbols of his passion: the cross held on the right, by the archangel Gabriel and on the left the sponge and lance held by the archangel Michael. On opposite side of the building, in the music sacristy, there is a window depicting Joseph, the husband of Mary, under the title of “St. Joseph the Worker.” Thus, the home of our Christian family is graced by the images of the mother of Jesus and his foster-father, Mary and Joseph: the models of all Christian parents.

Finally, in the balcony, on the right side, facing the sanctuary, is a window depicting the wounded heart of Christ. The Sacred Heart is a symbol of the Lord’s unconditional love for us, His people. On the opposite wall is a traditional depiction of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the world’s most perfect reflection of the undying love of her Son.

We believe that, in a special way, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” once again in our church building: an expression of and tribute to the faith of the Catholic people in the Lakeland area.

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Saint Anthony Catholic Church
820 Marcum Road | Lakeland, Florida 33809 | PH: 863.858.8047
© 2018 Saint Anthony Catholic Church, a parish of the Diocese of Orlando