Filipino priests and religious renewed their vows before the "incorrupt" heart relic of St. Padre Pio
during its overnight stay at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila this week. Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan
led the renewal of vows as he appealed to Catholics to pray for bishops and priests so that they may be "good shepherds" to their flock. "Pray for your priests and consecrated persons that the Lord may pour out His gifts on them and keep them faithful," said the prelate. Since the visit of the saint's relic coincided with the Philippine observance of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, priests should draw inspiration from Padre Pio, Bishop David said. "Let us ask that he will become our inspiration in our priestly life ... so that our love for Christ will be fervent in our hearts and we remain faithful to that love," said the bishop. Bishop David urged priests to ask Padre Pio to "enliven the faith of those who have turned cold," adding that the saint was instrumental in inspiring Catholics in Europe. The heart relic of St. Padre Pio, which is in the Philippines for a 20-day visit, has been drawing thousands of pilgrims and devotees. People have been lining up for up to six hours outside Manila Cathedral for the past two days to see the relic. The young and old, the sick, and the disabled, have sought to touch and venerate the relic of the saint known for healing the sick. During a Mass to welcome the relic in Manila Cathedral, Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo
urged Catholics to show concern for the country by including the nation in their prayers. "Don't just ask for our personal needs, let us also include the nation when we pray to Padre Pio," said the prelate, adding that the Philippines is "wounded." "We are faced with so many problems. Let us pray for the nation and our leaders. Let us ask for the nation's renewal," said Bishop Pabillo. The saint's relic arrived in the country on Oct. 5 and will tour the Philippines until Oct. 26.
Born on May 25, 1887, Padre Pio is one of the most popular saints.
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In life, he is said to have carried the stigmata — the wounds of Christ that miraculously appeared on the saint's body — although this has been disputed by an Italian historian. He is also remembered for allegedly having performed "bilocation," or appearing in different places at one time. He died on Sept. 23, 1968. Devotion to the saint is now believed to have caused many miracles. The church proclaimed him a saint on June 16, 2002. St. Pio's "holy gloves" were taken to Manila in July 2012.