Wednesday, April 16, 2014

St. Padre Pio Parish and Shrine, Santo Tomas, Batangas

This year’s Holy Week is not even halfway through yet and so there’s still a lot chance to visit churches and shrine. One place a would-be pilgrim and religious can visit, one place not is just one bus ride away from Metro Manila is the St. Padre Pio Parish and Shrine in Santo Tomas, Batangas.

Found in the midst of Batangas greeneries, the shrine is indeed ideal for prayer and meditation. You should expect of course the constant hum and buzz from the people doing their business in the periphery of the shrine as well as from the visitors. One thing that we have observed in these kinds of places is that the distinction between shrine and tourist destination is quite blurred. (Note that we do these visits for their general cultural significance to the Filipino.)

Anyway, what can be found inside the shrine? Prayer and meditation can be done in a number of ways. The shrine has a several chapels where you could do your personal devotions. There is also what looked like a main hall or church where regular masses are being held. Upon entering, there is also a store where religious items can be purchased for use in the shrine and later.

What is most interesting – both from the religious’ and tourist’s view point, I believe – is the several-feet high tower. It is basically a place where you can know more about the life of Padre Pio. But note that you have to pay 20 pesos for the entrance fee in exchange for a small prayer booklet of sort. This 20 pesos of yours buys you a literally breath-taking view of the surrounding countryside. Photos will not be enough to relay the feeling. You better climb up that tower.

On the tower’s ground floor you have an image of the glorious cross and for the succeeding floors, the life of Padre Pio in pictures.


Padre Pio’s Life: A Brief Outline (from the photos in the tower)
  • he was given the name Franceso Forgione after St. Francis of Assisi
  • second of the five living children of Maria Giuseppa del Nunzio Forgione and Grazio Mario Forgione
  • 1897: at the age of 10, he had already expressed his desire to become a priest
  • 1903: at the age of 15, Padre Pio entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone and took the habit of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (O. F. M. Cap.) and took the name Fra Pio (Brother Pio) in honor of Saint Pius V, the patron saint of Pietrelcina in Southern Italy
  • August 1, 1910: At the age of 23, Fra Pio was ordained to priesthood, now called Padre Pio, the Capuchin priest. He said: “I want to be a friar with a beard…like Brother Camillo.”
  • 1915-1918: served in the military
  • September 23, 1968: Padre Pio died at the age of 81
  • Gesú, Maria: with his rosary in his hands, he declared these words over and over until he breathed his last

His life was as adventurous as any outgoing person indeed.  What remains to be known is how Padre Pio was chosen to be venerated by the people in this place in Santo Tomas.

One last detail that I was able to note was this curious little monument found just as you enter the shrine. It is dedicated to the memory of Ernesto M. Gonzaga (Dec. 27, 1930 – Dec. 5, 2005) who apparently made the development of the shrine possible.

Schedule of Liturgical Services of Padre Pio Parish
* Note that the parish itself is different from the shrine. The main parish or church is found a short walk from the corner along the highway that leads to the shrine. See directions below.
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 06:30 am (parish)
- Wednesday, Friday, 05:00 pm (parish)
- Sunday, 06:00 am (parish), 08:30 am, 04:30 pm (shrine)

Regular Confession
- every Friday, 04:00 – 05:00 pm

Baptism (regular schedule)
- Sunday, 07:00 am

- to be announced
- as per schedule

- as per schedule

Anointing of the Sick
- anytime urgently necessary
For blessing of houses, offices, cars, religious items, etc.
- inquire at the office or at telephone numbers (043) 784-3568 or 455-0894

[How to go to St. Padre Pio Parish and Shrine, Santo Tomas, Batangas: Whether you are coming from Cubao area of LRT-Gil Puyat station area, simply board a bus headed for Lucena City, Quezon. You simply ask the conductor to stop the bus at the corner that would lead you to the shrine. This corner is in Bregy. San Pedro. Upon alighting the bus, tricycles are available near the 7-Eleven store. Minimum fare would be around 10 pesos but that would depend whether you are visiting solo or in group.]

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