The historic 20-day visit is taking place thanks to the Archdiocese of Lipa (Batangas) in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission for the Clergy. The pilgrimage will mark one hundred years since the appearance of the stigmata and the 50th anniversary of the saint's death. For the rector of the national shrine, Padre Pio “can be an inspiration and a challenge for us to have a heart like his”.
Manila (AsiaNews/CBCPNews) – Filipino Catholics are waiting for the relic of Padre Pio's heart, which will travel through the country between 6 and 26 October in an historic pilgrimage, exhibited in several cities, including Manila, Cebu and Davao.
The visit will be "a time of grace for Filipinos, especially the devotees of Padre Pio, who are now walloping in near hopelessness during these uncertain times of our nation's history," said Father Joselin Gonda, rector of the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas, at a press conference presenting the event.
Fr Joselin Gonda noted that the visit marks two milestones in the life of the saint: one hundred years since the appearance of the stigmata on 20 September and the 50th anniversary of his death on 23 September.
"Moreover, this is the Year of the Clergy and of the Consecrated Persons,” the prelate said. “Padre Pio, given as a model for them, can be an inspiration and a challenge for us to have a heart like his, close to the Eucharistic heart and forgiving heart like the Lord."
The pilgrimage is taking place thanks to the initiative of the Archdiocese of Lipa (Batangas), in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission for the Clergy, presided by the Bishop of San Pablo, Mgr Buenaventura Famadico.
The Philippines will be the fourth country to receive the relic after the United States, Paraguay and Argentina.
Mgr Gilbert Garcera, Archbishop of Lipa, approved the detailed plan for the visit, in particular the presence of the relic at the shrine of Saint Padre Pio, declared "national sanctuary" by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in 2015.
Since then, the shrine has attracted thousands of pilgrims, especially during Holy Week and on the 23rd of every month, a special day set aside for Padre Pio with Masses and liturgies for the sick.
Gonda said that a contingent of devotees from the national shrine will fly to Italy a week before to take and accompany Padre Pio's heart to the Philippines.
“We will be accompanied by two Capuchin friars to ensure the safety and orderliness of the visit of the heart relic to the different places in the country,” Gonda added.