MANILA, October 11, 2018–Pope Francis’ envoy to the Philippines invited the faithful to imitate Saint Padre Pio, in devotion and service.
Speaking to thousands of devotees Saturday, Papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia commended the saint a model for all Christians for his deep devotion, especially for his care for those in need.
“Let us ask Padre Pio to pray for us so that like him, we may have hearts that are child-like, hearts that are loving and hearts that are pure,” Caccia said at the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio.
“A pure heart sees well. It can see what is good and what is evil, and moreover it can discern God’s will. How can we keep our hearts pure? Through prayer,” he said.
The nuncio presided over the 9am Mass to celebrate the first day visit of the “incorrupt” heart relic of Padre Pio.
Police reported at least 32,000 devotees that flocked to the shrine as of Saturday noon time.
The relic arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at about 10pm on Friday wherein a liturgical reception took place. The relic arrived at the Batangas shrine via motorcade around midnight.
Many devotees did not mind the hot weather to seek favor from the saint, a Capuchin priest who bore stigmata – the crucifixion wounds of Christ.
Caccia particularly noted the presence of sick people, which according to him, “is a manifestation of the power and comfort that only come from faith”.
“Let Padre Pio’s loving heart assure you that you are not alone in your suffering. You are united with the sufferings of Christ which always lead to the Resurrection, our greatest hope and consolation,” he said.
More devotees will also have a chance to venerate the relic because it will be brought to Manila, Cebu, Davao, and back to Batangas.
The heart relic will be in the country until October 26, which is said to be the longest time it would stay in a country.
Fr. Jojo Gonda, rector of the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio, said their prayer is for the visit of the relic “to strengthen our faith as a nation with all the difficulties that we are going through”.
“This is also an opportune moment that the heart is here to reinvigorate the faith, the hope of the Filipino people in God,” he said. (Roy Lagarde)