By Ferdinand Patinio

INT’L RECOGNITION. The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas in this Dec. 1, 2020 photo. The shrine pays homage to Saint Padre Pio, who is known for his gift of healing. (Photo courtesy of the Sto. Tomas, Batangas City Tourism Office)

MANILA – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has endorsed a petition to the Vatican seeking to elevate the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio into an international shrine.

CBCP president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the measure was adopted during their 128th plenary assembly in Cagayan de Oro City last weekend.

“We have approved to endorse the application of the National Shrine of Padre Pio into an international shrine,” he said in a report by CBCP News on Tuesday.

The 12-hectare shrine, located in Santo Tomas, Batangas, is frequently visited by pilgrims from across the country and around the world, especially those seeking healing and refuge.

Originally a small chapel, it became the country’s first parish under the patronage of a Capuchin saint in 2003.

Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera said that aside from the CBCP endorsement, the parish has gained support from several heads of episcopal conferences across Asia to become an international shrine.

“We are really convinced there is a need for Rome to recognize it is an international shrine because of the strong devotion to Santo Padre Pio,” he said.

The parish in Santo Tomas was recognized as an archdiocesan shrine in 2008 and was later declared by the CBCP as a national shrine in 2013.

Once the Vatican approves the petition, it will be the second international shrine in the country, the other one is the International Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo City. (PNA)