St. John Paul II in Baclaran

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38 years ago today St. John Paul II  arrived in the Philippines for a pastoral visit. His first stop, straight from the airport: Baclaran shrine.

Here’s an excerpt from the Chronicles of the Baclaran Community describing that great event:.

Feb 17th, 1981. The great day had come at last. The Lipa Carmelites had arrived the night before and asked permission to stay in the church all night to make sure that they got a good position. The Redemptoristines slept in the house of Mrs. Flor Duran in Pasay and came here before 5.a.m.only to find the church packed with more than four thousand nuns. Our collegians acted as ushers. Since it was an address for Women Religious they were the only ones allowed into the Church. The famous Mother Teresa arrived with a group of about 80 of her sisters. They all had tickets except her. One of the ushers stopped her and when one of her sisters said “But that is Mother Teresa”. The usher replied “Who is Mother Teresa? No one gets in without a ticket”.  (She did get in eventually). The Pope arrived about 9.00 a.m. He entered through the front gate in a beautifully decorated motor float and passed up our front drive, greeting and blessing the people as he came. The vice Provincial read a short address of welcome. Before the Pope’s address he referred to his former visit to Baclaran and his Mass at the high altar. At the end he read a beautiful prayer to the Mother of Perpetual Help, consecrating to her and placing under Her mantle his apostolic tour of the Far East. He then presented the Vice Provincial with a symbolic Candle that came as a gift from St. Mary Major’s in Rome.

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The Pope blessed all the Sisters, especially the sick ones who were in the front. It was reported later, though it could not be confirmed by us, that one wheel chair case was actually cured by the Pope’s blessing. The Pope then went up the spiral staircase and passed along the gallery where the Redemptorist confreres and their friends were. The Pope shook hands with each one and when he came to an aspirant with a crutch (Caloy Ronquillo) he embraced him. He paused at the front of the Convento on the azotea to address and bless the immense crowd in the parking area and the streets beyond. Then he insisted on going to the refectory where he had been entertained eight years before. He even remembered where he had sat. He sat down again and took some refreshments and chatted.

From the refectory he went to the float through the front door. The exit route was the same as the entrance. On the way he stooped down twice to take a small child in his arms to the great delight of the crowd. The Cardinal Secretary of State was found strolling happily around in the garden near the library. He had somehow missed his car and didn’t know that the Pope had already gone. The Community were about to drive him to the Cathedral when Msg. Woods arrived and rescued him.

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