Monday, March 3, 2008

The Pilgrim Relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face Visit to Bohol with Tridentine Masses Celebrated in her Honor

The Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of the Assumption of the Diocese of Bohol became a pilgrimage site for the entire Bohol island and nearby provinces. There were literally thousands of devotees and pilgrims venerating the miraculous relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus for almost three days, lining up for a kilometer until the wee hours in the morning, there were two 6am Tridentine Sung Masses were offered by Rev. Fr. Joseph Skelton complete with incense, 16 altar servers, candle bearers, thurifers and a master of ceremonies. The choir sung polyphony while I chanted the propers and the Epistle. Both Masses had around a thousand people in attendance with 3 priests assisting in Holy Communion. It was truly an historical event for Bohol. Other Masses were offered in different hours by pilgrim priests and bishops who crossed the bridge connecting the main island to the island of Panglao where the church is located. The last day of the relics was honored by a solemn Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form by the Bishop of Tagbilaran, Bishop Leo Medroso with Bishop Tumulak as concelebrant, complete with polyphony. Bishop Medroso had his pontifical gloves on and donning beautiful gold vestments. February 29, the relics left the Church and was brought at the docking area at the rear portion of the church grounds accompanied by members of the PNP , the Armed Forces, Bishops, priests, nuns, seminarians and thousands of devotees. Aftyer some prayers, she was brought on board a boat accompanied by other smaller ones in a fluvial procession, taking her to Tagbilaran where she boarded a navy boat which took the relics to Cebu tehn by helicopter to Jaro, Iloilo. Fireworks were lit as the relics sailed towards Tagbilaran. According to the priest accompanying the relics this was so far the best reception given to the relics of St. Therese. More than 30,000 people have been observed to have visited the relics, bearing in mind that Bohol is 98% Roman Catholic, producing 18 Bishops, 600 priests and hundreds of nuns and other religious. A miracle attributed to the visit of the relics is the overflowing catch of fishes by local fishermen who for days had very little catch until the day of the arrival of the relics. Fish was sold for P10.00 per kilo and surplus supply was brought to Cebu for nobody bought fish in the market since all families had their abundant supply of fish. The Ayala Foundation donated around P5-7 million pesos to spruce up and beautify the Church grounds turning it into the Assumpta Pilgrim Center, where cultural shows, religious concerts and other activities were held during the visit. Flushing Meadows Resort volunteered to spruce up the lighting and interiors of the Church inclding its maintenance and cleaning services. Beautiful Capiz lamps lit all the surrounding trees, food booths were set up for the pilgrims, patios and chairs/tables were constructed under the big trees and floodlights surrounded the 19th century building and 18th century convent, illuminating the landscape and seascape of Dauis the whole night. The lower portion of the convent was converted into a souvenir shop where pilgrims were able to buy religious articles related to the visit of the relics. Cultural coffee table books were made available and portions of the lower convent housed a coffee shop and an exhibit about the Life of St. Therese and the Diocese of Tagbilaran. Outdoor bamboo confessionals were set up for the many penitents and gigantic bamboo crosses were set up on the grounds for the Stations of the Cross. It was truly a showcase of Catholic Faith, Fervor and Devotion.

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