KABANKALAN, Neg. Occ. - About a thousand devotees patiently waited for the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus despite the scorching heat of the sun and a heavy but short rain before it arrived at the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral here yesterday afternoon.
One of the devotees, 80-year-old Florenda Libacao of Ilog, a town adjacent to Kabankalan, did not mind waking up early to pack her lunch and be at the church at 7 a.m. yesterday.
Libacao started being a devotee of St. Therese of the Child Jesus when she was 14 years old, when she read about the saint’s life in a leaflet during their catechism at the Ilog Catholic church.
How St. Therese held on to her faith in God and the humble way she had lived is worthy to be emulated, Libacao said.
Now that Libacao is moving towards the sunset of her life, suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and enlargement of the heart, she said, just like St. Therese, she too, will hold on to her faith in the Almighty.
The octogenarian was with her cousin, Adelfa Villarna, also a senior citizen, and they brought with them roses and fans bearing the image of St. Therese.
Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature.
Libacao and Villarna had also been present in the previous two visits of the pilgrim in Kabankalan.
Aside from devotees, there were vendors of religious items, and police officers and soldiers to provide security, who flocked to the area.
Zaldy dela Cruz, 42, a resident of Manila, was one of the vendors at the church grounds offering devotees various memorabilia such as handkerchiefs, fans, rosary beads, miniature icons of St. Therese, and a lot more.
Dela Cruz, a father of seven children, said he was travelling to the areas where the relics of St. Therese were being brought to sell these items, but his activity has now become his devotion, he said.
“Our profit sometimes cannot pay for a RoRo ticket, but the joy of our every journey with St. Therese is the most important,” dela Cruz said.
He said when there is no pilgrim visit of the St. Therese relics to the country, he sells memorabilia of the Black Nazarene and other saints.
Dela Cruz had been selling religious items for 20 years now.
Dela Cruz, Libacao, and Villarna, along with other devotees, ran for shelter when the rain poured but returned to the church grounds to welcome the pilgrim relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus that arrived at about 4 p.m. yesterday.
The relics entered the church while devotees were raising their roses, prayer books and other religious items.
Fr. Joel Rubin, rector of the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, said, “We are welcoming her to give thanks for her intercession in so many times, even to simple folks. She gave inspiration that though what we are doing is ordinary yet if there is love, it will become special.”
This is echoed in St. Therese’s motto which is "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses,” Rubin said.
He said a congregation of the faithful from elderly to young ones showed their love and devotion to St. Therese, whose virtue can be applied in whatever our state of life.
Kabankalan Mayor Isidro Zayco said the city is thankful that the relics of St. Therese has visited them three times already. Because of her sacrifice, she was named doctor of the church by then pope now Saint John Paul II, 100 years after her death.
This is the fourth Philippine visit of the pilgrim relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.*SGG
back to top