MARNILA, April 6, 2018–Maria Adia Alonzo saw Pope John Paul II twice before, when he visited Manila in 1981 to beatify the first Filipino martyr, Lorenzo Ruiz, and during World Youth Day 23 years ago.
The 85-year-old woman saw him again, in a way, on Saturday when a vial of blood drawn from the saint pope was exposed for public veneration at the Manila Cathedral.
“I’m already old and I came here to pray for a happy and peaceful death. I also prayed for my four children,” she said.
Alonzo was one of the more than more than 2,000 people who lined up to venerate the first-class relic after a Mass with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as the homilist.
With sick family members, financial woes and other concerns on their mind, devotees queued to venerate the relic.
Thousands more are expected to do the same as the cathedral will allow public veneration from 6am to 8pm on Sunday.
“This precious gift is truly a source of consolation and help especially for those who suffering physical illness,” said Fr. Regie Malicdem, rector of Manila Cathedral.
“Let Saint John Paul II, who himself endured courageously his sickness, be the companion and intercessor in their journey,” he said.
In his homily, the cardinal said that saints are examples of Christian life.
With John Paul II, he said it was openness to do God’s will, and it was the zeal to go “to the ends of the earth” to spread the Gospel.
He then recalled how the pope “opened his heart” to the Philippines, telling people “not to be afraid of Jesus and of the life He offers”.
“Now, we welcome him again, the relic of his blood,” Tagle said. “With Saint John Paul II, let us be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth.”
The liturgical service ended with the song “Tell the world of His love” which was originally sang during the World Youth Day in Manila.
John Paul II was born in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920, and died in 2005 in Vatican City at the age of 84.
He was pope for 27 years, making him the second longest serving pontiff after Pope Piux IX who held the office for 31 years.
John Paul II was canonized as a saint on April 27, 2014. (CBCPNews)