A Knight of Columbus stands guard as devotees line up to pay homage to the pilgrim relics of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus at the parish church of Tupi in the southern Philippine province of South Cotabato on May 4. (Photo by Bong Sarmiento/ucanews.com)
Some minor misunderstandings left a family in disarray in the small town of Tupi in the southern Philippines a few years back.
Vicky Ramirez recalled how a petty row with her son and daughter-in-law resulted in a prolonged uneasy silence, with the young couple eventually leaving the house.
The family feud is now patched up, thanks to the intercession of the highly venerated St. Therese of the Child Jesus to whom the 61-year-old mother prayed to heal the relationship.
"I offered prayers to her to intercede in our family problem," said Vicky. "The answer did not come right away but I did not lose hope," she added.
Her advice to those who wanted their prayers answered is just to "hang on and what you prayed for will happen at the right time."
Vicky spoke of the "miraculous intervention" that reunited her family during a visit of the pilgrim relics of St. Therese of Lisieux — also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus — the patron saint of the 62-year-old parish.
It was a "once in a lifetime event" for the parishioners of a rural town to see and touch the relics of a saint, said Vicky.
Residents, along with devotees from nearby towns and provinces, came in droves and welcomed the pilgrim relics of the saint "like a rock star."
Before dawn on May 2, a convoy of at least 30 vehicles brought the relics from the town of Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat province, more than an hour away from Tupi.
Heavy rain did not stop people from coming out of their homes, but as the convoy with the saint was about to enter the town, the downpour stopped.
For the faithful, it was a miracle, and they came out into the streets to join the procession.
Outside the parish church, young people danced and sword-wielding members of the Knights of Columbus — the world's largest Catholic fraternal service — in their black and red ceremonial attire lined the road.
Later in the evening, fireworks filled the sky of the agricultural town of about 70,000 people.
More than half a dozen Masses and venerations were offered at the parish church, which was opened for 24 hours.
"The response of the people to the arrival of the pilgrim relics was overwhelming," said Father Noe Pedrajas.
People even from outside the parish came, donating money, time, and effort to make the reception of the saint a success.
For the priest, the warm welcome of the people was the real miracle.
Devotees brought with them roses, St. Therese's favorite flower. When she was dying, the saint supposedly said that after her death "I will let fall a shower of roses."
Among the activities initiated by parish was the visit of the pilgrim relics to 70 chapels across town.
"St. Therese is a very good role model because in her lifetime, she was doing ordinary duties with an extraordinary amount of love," said Father Pedrajas.
The priest said, "the world would be a better place to live in if only people emulate the extraordinary love" shown by the saint to others.
"It is not the material things that we accumulate that matter but the good things that we do to our fellow humans with humility," he added.
This is the fourth visit of the saint's relics to the Philippines. They first arrived in 2000, then in 2008, and 2013. This year, the tour began on Jan. 13 and will end on May 31.
Born in Alencon, France, on Jan. 2, 1873, Marie Francoise Therese Martin was the youngest of five daughters, all of whom became nuns.
After having lived a spiritual life known for its simplicity and practicality, she died in Lisieux, France in 1897 aged just 24 after a long battle with tuberculosis.
She was canonized a saint on May 17 1925, by Pope Pius Xi.