IN PHOTOS: Thousands honor Padre Pio's heart relic in Batangas
BATANGAS, Philippines – Thousands honored the incorrupt heart relic of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on Saturday, October 6, its first full day in the Philippines.
Police estimated at least 32,000 devotees in the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas, as of 9 am on Saturday.
Padre Pio's heart relic arrived at around 10 pm on Friday, October 5, at terminal one of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
A brief veneration was held at NAIA 1 on Friday evening, after which the relic was brought to Batangas. It arrived in Batangas around 12:25 am on Saturday.
Veneration of the relic then began in Batangas, punctuated by a 9 am Mass presided by the papal nuncio or the Vatican's ambassador to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia.
"Today, in this Shrine, in front of his holy heart, Padre Pio invites us to also entrust our hearts to the Lord," Caccia said in his homily at the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio.
"Let us ask Padre Pio to pray for us so that like him, we may have hearts that are childlike, hearts that are loving, and hearts that are pure," added the papal nuncio.
Padre Pio's heart relic is staying in the Philippines from October 5 to 26. Check out the schedule here.
Born on May 25, 1887, Padre Pio is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church. In life, he carried the stigmata, the wounds of Christ that miraculously appeared on the saint's body. He is also remembered for having performed bilocation, or appearing in different places at one time.
He died on September 23, 1968, and devotion to the saint is now believed to have caused many miracles. The Catholic Church proclaimed him a saint on June 16, 2002.
Padre Pio's incorrupt body is on display at San Giovanni Rotondo in Italy. (READ: FAST FACTS: Who is Saint Padre Pio?) – Paterno Esmaquel II / Rappler.com