TABON-TABON, Leyte, May 6, 2016 – Ending a moving visit to the Philippines, the first-class relics of St. Anthony only inspire more confidence and devotion in the 12th century miracle-working saint from Portugal.
Many are hopeful that a visit to the St. Anthony of Padua Parish Church would help hasten answers to prayers for passing licensure examinations, total healing, among others.
Thelma Concepcion, 65-years old, was teary-eyed when she narrated in an interview how her devotion to St. Anthony of Padua and a visit to his shrine in Sulangan, Eastern Samar cured multiple cysts in her uterus a decade ago – all without going under the knife.
She said the saint answered her prayer for healing without the need for surgical operations or even medications to stop her monthly period.
Jennifer Balbao, a 33-year old mother of two, had to bring along her 3-year old daughter all the way from Babatngon some 60 kilometers to Tabon-Tabon to attend the Mass for St. Anthony of Padua’s pilgrim relics, which had been visiting various parishes all over the Philippines.
She is asking the Portuguese saint’s intercession to help her pass the licensure exam she took again in March after two attempts.
She said her friends, who also failed twice in the same licensure test, finally passed on the third try after going to the St. Anthony Church in Sulangan, Eastern Samar to ask for his help.
Marian Bibar, a choirmember and assistant chairman of the commission on youth in St. Anthony of Padua Parish in this city, is hopeful St. Anthony will touch more young hearts in her parish and inspire them to devote their time and talent to the Church.
She attributed the success in her career to her belief in St. Anthony of Padua, her parish’ patron saint.
Deborah Torres, who arrived at the church in a wheelchair pushed by her husband, is seeking the healing intercession of St. Anthony for the lingering sickness she has been enduring for six months now.
Diagnosed with anemia, she needs regular blood transfusions, which leaves her chronically weak. She was advised to seek medical attention in hospitals in Metro Manila, which her family could no longer afford..
Finding a ring in the sea
Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo-Du in his homily, narrated the miracle of finding his golden St. Anthony ring from the bottom of the sea.
Du recalled how the foot of one of the ten swimmers looking for the ring got entangled in seaweed, forcing him to swim deeper where a shining object caught his eye: the bishop’s ring
The prelate narrated further that his brother who is a polio victim was able to walk again after his mother constantly prayed to St. Anthony for intercession and healing.
Thus his mother warned him to always keep the ring safe with him.
“Sometimes, we get lost in our way, we lost important things and persons, we are indeed very grateful to our saints for helping us,” said Du, who admitted to being a devotee of St. Anthony.
Future national shrine
During the relics’ visit to the St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Du also announced the plan to make church a national shrine.
“We’ll make it (the church) a shrine, a pilgrimage site for the devotees,” said Du.
The newly-erected church in Tabon-Tabon where the relics were venerated had not yet been blessed and dedicated as finishing touches are yet underway.
“St. Anthony came first before I blessed this church,” he said, adding, “San Antonio de Padua really is a miracle worker,” considering the fast construction of the church through the help of U.S. donors.
Du himself could not believe how the old structure of the said church, which was severely damaged by super typhoon Yolanda and later by typhoon Ruby, was able to rise again on a separate lot and with much bigger space. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCPNews)