1997-02-24 00:00:00

A Manila parish has unveiled a memorial honoring five Columban priests and thousands of parishioners who died when the city was bombed during World War II (WWII).

On Feb. 2, Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, downtown Manila, blessed the "Pieta," a life-size bronze monument in front of the parish church depicting a Filipina woman supporting a frail, dying man.

"The compassionate figure of Our Lady of Healing calls the Church to heal our crucified world, to walk with the poor and the oppressed, and to be the voice of those who cry for justice," the memorial reads.

In his homily to some 300 guests, Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila referred to "downward plunges that deviated humanity and destroyed the values of peace, brotherhood and progress. One such plunge ... is war."

The past war "should have served as a deterrent ... but sadly, we see around us the resurgence of violence and retaliation that continue to wipe away precious lives, mostly of innocent victims," the cardinal added.

According to Columban Father Michael Martin, the traditional "Pieta" in which the Blessed Mother holds the lifeless body of Jesus, inspired the Malate statue.

"In 1945, Malate became one huge cemetery. Tortured, broken, dead bodies were everywhere. They were grandparents, mothers, fathers, children, infants, priests, sisters, brothers," said Father Martin, parish priest.

Irish Columban Fathers Patrick Kelly, John Henaghan, John Lalor, Peter Fallon and Joseph Monaghan, who served at the parish, perished together with an estimated 20,000 Malate residents, victims of the Japanese Imperial Forces or the 15-day bombing of Manila by U.S. forces in February 1945.

The monument, sculpted by Peter De Guzman, 35, was unveiled before the Mass by Jorge de Leon of the parish´s WWII Memorial Committee and Monsignor John Henaghan of California, a nephew of the late Father Henaghan.

Wreaths were laid by several guests, including Doctor Enrique Novales, who had attended the dying Father Fallon.


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