DAVAO City — Thousands of devotees braved the long queues and the afternoon heat to view and touch the glass-encased incorrupt heart relic of Padre Pio during the public veneration at the Ateneo de Davao University’s Matina Campus on Sunday, upon its arrival from Cebu City.
The Archdiocese of Davao is the fourth destination of its 22-day visit in the country and will stay here for four days. Its next stop is the Archdiocese of Lipa in Batangas tomorrow.
Some 50,000 devotees and members of Padre Pio prayer groups from around Davao region were estimated to have attended the Eucharistic celebration. A public veneration followed from afternoon until evening.
The heart relic was transferred to the San Pedro Cathedral on Sunday evening for an overnight public veneration.
Padre Pio was an Italian priest and mystic who was known to have received the gift of stigmata or the wounds of Christ.
Padre Pio died in 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002, 34 years later.
This morning, the relic would be brought to the Regional Major Seminary in Catalunan Grande but it would be exclusively for priests and consecrated persons. It would be returned to the cathedral late afternoon for a scheduled 5:30 pm mass while a farewell concelebrated mass would be held at 6:30 am tomorrow.
Dr. Eugenia Hingpit, founder of the St. Pio Prayer Group-Tagum Chapter, said in an interview that their members came to see the relic of Padre Pio, in the hope they would recover from various illnesses, including cancer.
Some of the devotees also wanted to offer prayers for the graduates to pass the bar and board examinations, she said.
It was Hingpit’s second time to join a public veneration of the priest’s relic. The first was when a pair of gloves used by the priest to cover the wounds on his hands, was brought by Ramon Rodriguez, a member of the St. Pio Prayer Group of Quezon City, to Tagum City on Jan. 6, 2012.
His gloves were considered a “second class” relic while his incorrupt heart is considered as “first class relic,” declared officially as a national treasure by the Italian government.
Hingpit added that her residence hosted the public veneration in Tagum for two days, attended by several devotees including Davao City’s Archishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, for lack of a bigger space to host the relic in a local parish.
Her prayer group has over 50 men and women members.
Hingpit said a devotee of Padre Pio survived a colon cancer after being diagnosed in 2010, a manifestation of the miracle as a result of his strong devotion to the saint. (Antonio L. Colina IV of Mindanews)