STO. TOMAS, Batangas, August 5, 2015—Pray, hope, and don’t worry! Filipino Catholics have a new national shrine they can look forward to visiting soon: that of St. Padre Pio in San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
Its rector, Fr. Jojo Gonda, gladly shared with the “online faithful” the recent decree from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which officially raises the pilgrimage site to its present national shrine status.
Signed no less than by CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, the declaration reads, in part: “In the exercise of our mandate to foment devotion and nurture piety among our Catholic faithful … we hereby decree with joy that the Archdiocesan Shrine of Padre Pio, in San Pedro, Santo Tomas, Batangas in the Archdiocese of Lipa henceforth be called the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio.”
“We invoke the blessings of Almighty God upon all the faithful who visit this national shrine that they may grow steadily in Christian piety, reach maturity in the Catholic faith, and constantly live the mandate of Christian charity,” he adds.
As such, the sacred place joins the handful of other churches in the predominantly Catholic country which have the honor of becoming national shrines.
Among these are: Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Parañaque, Our Lady of Fátima in Valenzuela, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati, St. Jude in Manila, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo, Our Lady of the Rosary La Naval de Manila in Quezon City, and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Muntinlupa.
Now that it is a national shrine, Catholics coming to Padre Pio must expect the Eucharist to be celebrated there, according to Villegas, “with utmost devotion according to the liturgical norms of the Church.”
Penitents may also avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation the shrine offers daily.
Moreover, the prelate notes, “… the poor and the needy must always receive the best pastoral care from the Catholic community who come to this national shrine, so that in everything God may be glorified.”
A devotee, Edna Gonzaga, commented, “The outpouring of blessings at the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio is truly amazing! Glory to God! Thank you, Padre Pio!”
As its name makes clear, the national shrine is dedicated to St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the Italian Capuchin priest, miracle worker, and mystic who is remembered today as one of the few people in history to have received the stigmata, or the wounds of Christ.
Canonized in 2002 by the Pope John Paul II, the saint’s intercession is often invoked by people seeking stress relief.
His feast day is on Sept. 23. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)