Yeah! It’s our finals in our school. But that’s not the reason why I was here. I’m not a lickspittle! It just so happen that my mother invited me to attend a mass in the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio. I think, she misses and badly want me to see the place. I didn’t regret going with her because I was able to be with the Lord again in the most heartwarming way. I was able to meet Padre Pio through his works. And lastly, I was able to step foot in Sto. Tomas, Batangas and roamed around one of the most visited spot in their place.
First, who is Padre Pio and why is he so special that people built a shrine dedicated for him? Padre Pio, also known as Pio of Pietrelcina, was an Italian friar, priest, and mystic, now beatified and canonized as a priest of Catholic Church. Padre Pio’s life was full of miracles, but the nature of the miracles was always divine. He believed that the only source of these miracles is God. With this national shrine, many claim that he is also sharing miracles to people.
We were greatly welcomed in National Shrine of St. Padre Pio with the famous quote of St. Padre Pio himself, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” I saw that there are many people here who were obeying his words. According to my mother, if it’s Sunday, it will automically be crowded here since it is a church and a tourist spot at the same time. It’s a good thing that they celebrate mass time by time so everyone here has a chance to attend one. So before anything else, I think you know what we did.
I’m glad that I was in front so I easily captured the altar of this church, the Jubilee of Mercy. I stared at every corner and I noticed that the design is very Filipino. Everything is made from different kinds of wood from the wall to ceiling which is mainly composed of bamboo sticks. They absolutely stood to their concept as the altar table itself, throne of the priest, chairs of the servers, frames, lecterns, baskets for collections and other stuff are all made from wood.
While waiting for the mass to start, I was staring on hanging cross depicting the Pieta and the Risen one on the top most part of the ceiling. I, together with my two unknown seatmates whom I heard talking, wondered what this is made of. One of my seatmate thought that it’s also made from wood while her friend though that it is made from Styrofoam. My thoughts? I have no idea. If that’s a wood, there is a possibility that it will fall. If that’s a Styrofoam, it should sway with the wind. How about your thoughts?
When I’m searching for National Shrine of Padre Pio, I always see a photo of the Jubilee of Mercy, together with this tower that’s why I always wonder what this tower is. Finally, I discovered that it is Mother of Mercy Belfry. It’s some kind of museum with the father’s memorabilia. I’m not sure because I haven’t had a chance to get upstairs since it was locked and the guard wasn’t there. I must say that it is still wonderful from here, especially the bells.
The top floors of the belfry may be closed but its ground floor is open for all for it is the Chapel of Living Water. Miraculous as they claim, the holy water flowing from this round table is used by the devotees for blessing. I see some people spreading it to their body parts which are in pain. This chapel is so generous that they allow its guest to get as much holy water as they want through the jars of holy water located in every corner.
Since National Shrine of St Padre Pio is a remarkable spot for Visita Iglesia and pilgrimages, the 13 Stations of the Cross shouldn’t be absent. Well, they have them arranged in a semi-circle where each statue were notably painted in gold and stood behind a wall of bamboo sticks. The national shrine also have the Most Sacred Cross Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Sanctuary where the most sacred cross can be found.
Aside from the chapels, sanctuary, life-sized statues and Station of the Cross, there’s another area in this shrine where guests can stay to say their prayer and offer their petitions. In fact, the Fountain of Hope is created for that purpose. This is a good place to lock our wishes by tying handkerchiefs. Plus, the fountain itself and the figures of the Crucified Christ and Padre Pio assure us that God and Padre Pio is there to help.
Its name, Chapel of Reconciliation, already explains how this another-round-shaped chapel function. As you can see, there are different rooms for confession behind the altar. Nevertheless, I guess, this chapel is also good for guests who are just dropping by to pray and neither to attend the mass nor to explore the place like us. And yeah, it’s also round like the Jubilee of Mercy. I guess they really intended to have a mini version of it.
Because I want to see every part of this shrine, I discovered that the back of Jubilee of Mercy, where there is another image of St. Padre Pio, is the best spot to stay after all the tour and all the sweat I’ve earned. I loved how the breeze kissed my face, swayed my hair and of course, dried my persperation. This is because the shrine is situated in an area with numerous trees so I truly appreciate the natural scenery. I heard that Mt. Makiling is near the place. I hope I saw that, too.
One of the attractions of this shrine is the sculpture of Mama Mary on top of the dome-like church. She’s in the center of the whole place as if she’s guiding each and every visitors in there because everywhere I go in this shrine, except, of course, indoors, I was seeing her and her solemnity. We were actually about to leave but as I pass by the exit of Chapel of Reconciliation, I guess I got the most beautiful scene of this journey.
As we depart, St. Padre Pio again wanted to leave a message, which is, this time, to ensure that we have the guidance of the Lord on our way home. No, he didn’t told us that directly. Instead, his statement “Stay with me, O Lord.” is written on the exit banner of the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio. Well, I can say that the Lord stayed with in this whole journey. I absolutely felt his presence. I would like to thank him and Padre Pio for welcoming me in one of his kingdom.