MANILA - The Italian Capuchin friars who brought the incorrupt heart relic of Saint Padre Pio to the Philippines turned emotional as they witnessed the throngs of Filipino devotees who lined up to venerate one of the Catholic Church's most celebrated saints.
In an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas, Fra. Giovanni Delle Carri said they could not help but turn emotional about the Filipinos' genuine expression of their faith in honoring Padre Pio.
"It is a great experience, very beautiful. We are all emotional, I am emotional for the faith of this people of the Philippines," the friar said.
"We see the genuineness of the people, the faith, the great faith of this people that honors St. Pio, honors the Lord through the sanctity of Padre Pio."
But what struck the friar the most was the large number of young people who stood in line for hours just to get a chance to venerate the relic of the saint.
"I have seen the people, the young, the future of the Philippine people with the desire to touch the mystery through this very humble brother, Padre Pio, who is filled with Christ, filled with light," the friar added.
"I am really emotional because having seen really young people desiring to touch, and I am sure that the heart of Padre Pio will also touch this generation, this new generation of the Filipino people and there will be fruits."
This is the first time that the heart relic of Padre Pio was brought outside of Italy.
After staying at the Manila Cathedral for two days, the relic will be toured around Visayas and Mindanao and then back to Batangas, it's first stop in the Philippines, before it departs for Europe.
The relic attracted scores of devotees at the National Shrine of Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas and the Santisimo Rosario Parish inside the University of Santo Tomas.
Padre Pio is recognized by the Catholic Church as a person who suffered the wounds of Jesus Christ in his body, the stigmata.
The saint lived from 1887 to 1968 and was a priest of the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin. Apart from experiencing stigmata, he was also believed to be a mystic.
He was born in Pietrelcina in Italy but ministered in San Giovanni Rotondo from 1916 until his death.
The incorrupt body of Padre Pio is encased in a part-glass coffin in the crypt of the old church of St. Mary of Grace at San Giovanni Rotondo and is venerated by pilgrims and devotees from all over the world.