Pope’s visit boosts Leyte tourism

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The image of the Our Lady of Palo, used during the papal Mass in Tacloban City in January, is on display inside the Palo Cathedral in Leyte. (Photo: Archdiocese of Palo)

MANILA, June 3, 2015— Aside from the “spiritual legacy”, Pope Francis’ visit to typhoon-ravaged Leyte has left a mark on local tourism, a church official said.

Fr. Chris Militante, Palo archdiocese’s spokesperson, said an influx of local and foreign tourists has been observed this summer, particularly to the places that the Pope visited in Palo.

At the Palo Cathedral, he said Catholic pilgrims and tourists are coming in to see the statue of Mary holding the child Jesus, which was displayed during the papal Mass at the Tacloban airport.

Our Lady of Palo

“The people are visiting the image of the Blessed Virgin, which is unique because it was made to illustrate the suffering of the people (typhoon Yolanda victims),” Militante told reporters.

The priest said before the Mass, Pope Francis venerated and touched the image made by known sculptor Willy Yalug out of yakal wood from the debris of the destroyed cathedral.

The statue depicts Mary standing on waves while carrying the baby Jesus on her waist, who is lifting and saving another boy from drowning with a rosary.

The life-size image was officially named “Our Lady of Palo” with the Nuestra Señora de Salvacion as inspiration.

‘Pontifical tourist spots’

Miltante also noted even the archbishop’s residence where the pontiff had lunch with some typhoon victims is visited by tourists.

“But we control those who can get inside at a certain point because the residence of the archbishop is a private place,” he said.

He added that there also people coming to donate to the Pope Francis Center, composed of an orphanage, clinic, and home for the elderly, built inside the archbishop’s residence compound.

So far, he said, the facility is home to seven seniors although it has been used several times as an evacuation center during recent storms that struck the province (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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