Padua: Friars at one of Italy’s most revered and beautiful churches are endeavouring to play cupid to hundreds

of single people due to converge on the building in search of a soulmate.

The friars at St Anthony’s basilica in the northern Italian city of Padua have organised a festival inspired by

the tradition among the faithful in the saint’s homeland of Portugal, as well as Latin America, who invoke his

intercession to help them find a life partner.

People turn to Saint Anthony to retrieve either lost items, stolen goods or people, but also when in search of


The event on Saturday – called Saint Anthony, matchmaker – is open to singles aged between 20 and 50 and

will begin in the afternoon with a meeting to allow people to get to know each other. A mass will follow,

during which the participants will say a prayer called If you look for miracles. A party labelled Love is all

around will take place in the evening.

Two hundred people had already registered online for the festival within hours of it being officially

announced on Wednesday. Fr Oliviero Svanera, the rector of the basilica, said: “I’m a little worried there

won’t be enough room.”

This is the second time the friars have organised the event. Although the 2018 edition was more low profile, it

brought together two couples. “So Saint Anthony has already played his part,” Svanera said.

The idea came about after Svanera and his fellow friars noticed a growing number of people who had yet to

find a partner.

“Especially in the 35-40 age group,” he said. “There are people who are single by choice and who are happy,

but there are others who feel the loneliness and would like to meet someone to construct a life with.”

Svanera added that other commitments often stop people finding a relationship. “Especially in Italy, where it

takes people a long time to settle – they feel they have to get a degree and a job before they can do that,” he


There were 8 million single-person households in Italy in 2017, according to the most recently published

data, an increase of 1.5% since 2012.

The festival, however, is not just about finding love. “It’s about socialising and making friends,” Svanera said.

“And yes, with the hope that Saint Anthony intervenes.”