|Posted by Emily G. Sequeira on March 5, 2013 at 9:25 AM|
One of the highlights of the Philippine Camillian Family celebration of its 400th year Camillian presence in the country is the arrival and tour of the relic of St. Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of the sick, hospitals, physicians, nurses and other health care workers. The 400-year old relic (Heart) of St. Camillus de Lellis visited the different hospitals, chapels and parishes throughout the country as part of its pilgrimage tour from February 18 to March 11, 2013. Our parish, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan was very privileged indeed to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage.
As early as 2:00 pm on March 3rd, 2013, thousands of devotees started to gather at the parish grounds and our church patio to await the arrival of the relic of St. Camillus which was scheduled at 4:00 pm. The youth and other parishioners lined the streets with their red and white flags, waving them enthusiastically upon the arrival of the relic. The atmosphere was filled with awe and reverence as St. Camillus’ heart in a glass case came into view. Literally, “a saint was present among us and was in our midst.” He was greeted by nurses in their uniforms who showed their respect and admiration for their patron saint.
Inside the church, pilgrims wearing surgical masks, while some on crutches and on wheelchairs patiently waited for the arrival and the start of the Grand Healing Mass. The sick and infirm were given priority to share the church pews. Before the mass, community singing, Bible readings, and praise & worship prepared the pilgrims’ hearts and minds. The Grand Healing Mass was officiated by our parish priest, Fr. Mario Jose C. Ladra together with the Camillians whom he holds close to his heart.
Red and white rose petals were strewn to show our warm welcome and love for the saint who along with St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Joseph, has been helping us to heal our broken lives and wounded spirits. Like St. Camillus, we continuously struggle to rise above our weaknesses and the diseases of our body and soul that forever plague our lives. Following his example and determination and with God’s graces, we will one day be cured and be free from the bondage of illness that besets us.
Those were my thoughts and prayers throughout the healing mass. A confirmed diabetic and a survivor of a recent heart attack; I knew what it meant to literally “cling to dear life.” There was anointing of the sick at the end of the healing mass and during that time, I felt like the woman in the Bible who firmly believed that even if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’ clothing, she will be healed. (Matthew 9:21-22)
Like Saint Camillus, our beloved Fr. Mar is also blessed with a gift of healing. Testimonies of miraculous healings and answered prayers abound from those who frequent every Tuesday’s healing masses in our parish. Fr. Mar Ladra, the healing priest, prayed over me together with some other prayer warriors. He prayed for my healing. He prayed for my husband and my two children. He prayed for my aging mother. He also prayed for my whole family and my intentions. And I knew through the intercession of St. Camillus de Lellis and my persistent prayers, I will be healed.
“Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and all kinds of illness.” (Matthew 9: 35)