“Reminiscing the Blessings of a Pilgrimage”
Sakai Team Patrick Castroverde
There is a famous adage that says: “All roads lead to Rome”. Actually, I had a chance to go to Rome, the country I have been yearning to visit for a long time. It was exactly three years ago (February 8 ~14, 2016) when I, together with a group of pilgrims, went to Italy and Lourdes-France for a pilgrimage. For me, that kind of pilgrimage was my unforgettable and seemingly “a dream-come-true” experience.
Though, I was deeply impressed by the magnificent edifice of Vatican but I am even more amazed until now when I think of the religiosity and the faith of the multitude of people from all over the world flocking to Rome. Moreover, my eyes were filled with tears of joy when the moment Pope Francis suddenly appeared to the crowd in St. Peter’s square. “In a short distance, seeing this most powerful and well-known person in the whole world is a once-in-a- lifetime chance”!
Looking back at the year 2016, Pope Francis declared 2016 as the “Year of Mercy”. Throughout this year, he announced that “indulgences” would be granted if the people would do pilgrimage, follow the corporal works of mercy, and would pass through the “Holy Door” of St. Peter’s Basilica. In order to receive that said indulgences, we entered finally the “Holy Door” on the 11th of February, despite long hours and long queue of people. When we got inside the Basilica, I was really astonished to see the “incorruptible body of Padre Pio”, who died in 1968 and was declared a saint in 2002. I poised a question to myself why? It is said that Padre Pio was a renowned Italian Catholic priest and highly honored for his gift of healing and miraculous works. I never thought of encountering such an exemplary priest and a saint. Indeed, our pilgrimage was a blessing and a miracle!
Through the pilgrimage in Rome and Lourdes-France, I came to know what sort of celebration we have on every 11th of February. In 1992, Pope John II proclaimed that “February 11” would be a “World Day for the Sick”, in view of the commemoration of the feast of our Lady of Lourdes. As we all know, the historical fact tells us that the Immaculate Mother Mary appeared for the first time to Bernadette in the cave of Lourdes on February 11, 1858. Thus, as we celebrate “world day for the sick” every year, Pope Francis always reminds us that this day is a chance for us to turn our eyes towards not only to the sick people but to all those who are in trouble, and a chance to be grateful to God for giving us a vocation to be close with those who are suffering and in pain.
I hope we can make use of this opportunity to constantly pray to St. Padre Pio and Mother Mary that they may give us a perseverance to do our mission: to pray, help and serve those are sick, the poor, the lost, least and the last in the society.