“For more than 330 years, the Native Americans of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo have honored their patron Saint, Anthony of Padua, with a special celebration. It begins with the novena leading up to the feast, on the first day of the novena, the tribal members leave the church after 7 a.m. mass and divide into four groups, each group with a bell and an antique statue of St Anthony; they then go door to door begging for food in order to put on the great feast. In years past, they depended on the food received; now the food collected is actually given to a food bank. Each day of the novena there are special events: baking bread and the cookies called “bizcochos” and practicing for the dances on June 13.
“The day of June 13 is amazing, despite 104 degree temperatures (“it’s a dry heat”), the Indians dance for several hours, ritually symbolizing the planting and watering of corn, the staple of the traditional diet. It is a homecoming for tribal members who have moved away and friars as well. Once you celebrate St Anthony in Ysleta, nothing else quite compares.”
Fr. John Stowe, OFM Conv.