There’s only a month to go until the incorrupt heart relic of Saint Padre Pio, a Capuchin priest who bore stigmata of Jesus, arrives in the Philippines.
The cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao are some of the places to be visited by the relic in its 20-day stay, from October 6 to 26.
Fr. Joselin Gonda, rector of the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas, said the visit marks two milestones in the saint’s life—the centenary of the appearance of stigmata on his body on September 20 and his 50th death anniversary on September 23.
“The visit of the heart relic is a fitting epilogue to these two important events in the life of Saint Padre Pio,” Gonda said during a news conference in Manila on Wednesday.
“Besides, it is the Year of the Clergy and the Consecrated Persons. Padre Pio, given as a role model for them, can be an inspiration and challenge to us to have a heart like his, close to the Eucharistic and forgiving heart like the Lord,” he said.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, by way of an informal suggestion in choosing the saint to underscore the Year of the Clergy and the Consecrated Persons, suggested Padre Pio as the model.
In collaboration with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on the Clergy, chaired by Bishop Buenaventura Famadico of San Pablo, the historic visit is made possible through the initiative of the Archdiocese of Lipa. The Philippines will only be the fourth country to be visited by the heart relic. Others include the United States, Paraguay and Argentina.
“This will also be a ‘time of grace’ for the Filipinos, especially the devotees of Padre Pio, who are now walloping in near hopelessness during these uncertain times of our nation’s history,” Gonda said.
Archbishop Gilbert Garcera of Lipa has approved of the detailed plans of the visit, especially during its stay at the Shrine of Saint Padre Pio, which was declared a national shrine by the CBCP in 2015.
Since the visit is a nationwide event, the Luzon leg from October 8 to 10 will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Manila; the Visayas leg from October 11 to 13, by the Archdiocese of Cebu; and the Mindanao leg from October 14 to 16, by the Archdiocese of Davao.
From Davao, it will go back to Batangas in the morning of October 17, where a concelebrated Mass will be held at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Lipa City.
After the Mass, it will proceed to the Capuchin Monastery in Barangay San Sebastian, also in Lipa for the exclusive veneration of the Capuchins of the Philippines. From October 18, the relic stays at the national shrine, and a round the clock venerations take place until its departure on October 26, after the 9 a.m. farewell Mass.