Indonesians flock to pray before healing heart

Relic of Camillus de Lellis attracts thousands of Catholics on its first ever tour of the country
Indonesians flock to pray before healing heart

People touch the glass case containing the heart relic of St. Camillus de Lellis in the hope they will be cured of their ailments at St. Carolus Hospital in Jakarta on April 23. (Photo by Katharina R Lestari/ucanews.com)

For the past five years, life has been miserable for Martina Madut, a 74-year-old Catholic from Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province.

She has continually suffered from poor health, which has included prolonged bouts of chronic bronchitis, which makes it difficult for her to speak and swallow solid food.

Visits to doctors have not improved matters, nor has medication that have included herbal medicines, according to John Okalung, one of her sons 

“My mother suffers a lot and she is getting thinner and thinner day by day,” he said.

“It is so sad to see her like this.”

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The sick parishioner, who lives in the small town of Ruteng in Manggarai district, survives mainly on a diet of porridge and water.

“All we can do is look to God,” her son said.

Which is exactly what they did during April after being told by local Camillian priests about the arrival in the city of the heart relic of Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of the sick and health workers. 

“I took my mother there. She wanted to pray before the relic for God to heal her,” Okalung said.

Petrus Ngempeng had the same idea having suffered from problems following heart surgery about four years ago.

The 64-year-old went to where the relic was on display to pray for better health.

“I touched the glass case which contains the relic, hoping that I will get healed,” he said.

Ngempeng and Madut were among many Indonesian Catholics and non-Catholics suffering from ill health looking for divine intervention.

The saintly relic, contained in a crystal glass case, arrived in Indonesia for the first time on April 2 for a month-long visit after having been in the Philippines for the previous two months.

It was brought to Indonesia to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the St. Camillus Order arriving in Indonesia. After staying in the country for a month it was due to return to Rome at the end of April.

The relic’s first port of call was Ruteng, where it was displayed at the Camillian Home and then other locations, including parishes, hospitals and an orphanage.

Later, it was taken to Maumere, in East Nusa Tenggara’s Sikka district, to be displayed in the cathedral church, a Camillian convent and hospitals there.

Thousands of Catholics from the across the province and other regions packed the venues where the saint’s heart relic was displayed.

Fransisca Maria Ferry, 64, touches the glass case containing the St. Camillus de Lellis’ heart relic, in the hall of St. Carolus Hospital in Jakartan April 23. (Photo by Katharina R Lestari/ ucanews.com)

 

On April 22 it arrived at St. Carolus Hospital in Jakarta, where it was taken in a procession from ward to ward.

“We accepted it with a grateful heart when we were offered a chance to keep it here. We wanted to give an opportunity to all patients and medical workers, particularly Catholic ones, to venerate the saint who had a blazing heart,” said Maria Mitha, who chairs the hospital’s pastoral desk.

A Mass led by three Camillian priests, including relic visit organizer Father Cyrilus Suparman Andi, was held the next day.

About 300 Catholics, most suffering from ailments, attended the Mass in the hospital’s hall.

Among them was Heribertus Katiman Budi Santoso, 67, from Jakarta who is wheelchair bound following a stroke.

“My father wanted to come to pray before the relic in the hope he will be healed. He believes his prayers, with the saint’s intercession, will be answered by God,” said his daughter Florentina Dwi Hastuti,.

Another visitor, Fransisca Maria Ferry stood in a long queue to touch the glass case containing the heart and to pray.

“He is the patron saint of the sick. Through his intercession, I hope God will heal me,” said the 64-year-old woman with arthritic knees.

Santoso and Ferry were among many sick Catholics praying to be healed, Father Andi said. 

“Faith, hope and love are the most important things. St. Camillus de Lellis lived by these virtues. His faith strengthened him, he had hope that God would never let him down, and he felt God’s love through what he received,” he said.

“He repaid God’s love by serving the sick. This is what we want to highlight. Never treat the saint like a shaman. All prayers must go to God, as it is he alone who helps us in his very own way,” he said.

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