National Shrine of St.Padre Pio in Batangas

Archdiocese of Lipa

History of Padre Pio Parish

The Parish of St. Padre Pio in San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas was initially established at the chapel of Barangay San Pedro on June 28, 2003 by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales, D.D. (Archbishop Emeritus of Manila), former Archbishop of Lipa. He installed Rev. Fr. Dale Anthony Q. Barretto-Ko as its first Parish Priest. Formerly part of the Parish of St. Thomas Aquinas where Rev. Fr. Ricardo Echague served as Parish Priest, this new parish of St. Padre Pio ministers to the barangays of Sta. Ana, San Agustin, Sta. Elena, San Felix, San Isidro Norte, San Isidro Sur, San Jose, San Juan, San Pablo and San Pedro.

On November 7, 2005, Ernesto and Adelaida Gonzaga donated their 1.6- hectare agricultural land to the Archdiocese of Lipa to be the site of the new Parish Church and Shrine of St. Padre Pio. In 2006, Dr. Isabel Malvar-Villegas donated a 200-sq. m. parcel of land for perpetual use to provide the right of way to this site from the barangay road.

On December 23, 2008, His Excellency Ramon C. Arguelles, DD, Archbishop of Lipa, declared the existing church structure, made of bamboo and nipa, at this new site within Barangay San Pedro, as the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Padre Pio. After Fr. Barretto Ko’s ministry here, Rev. Fr. Joselin C. Gonda (Fr. Jojo) was appointed as the new Parish Priest and Shrine Rector on September 27, 2009.

Since then, the construction of the main church building, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Chapel of the Saints, the Belfry, the Parish Rectory, the Sanctuary of the True Cross of Christ, the St. John Marie Vianney Chapel of Reconciliation, and other structures ensued over the past four years.

In the year 2010, the Parish and Shrine of St. Padre Pio received two special relics of St. Padre Pio from Fr. Ermelindo Di Capua, O.F.M., Cap., a Capuchin priest who had served the patron saint of the Shrine. These have become a focus of devotion among the faithful. In the same year, it was declared as one of the pilgrimage churches of the Archdiocese of Lipa during its Centennial Year.

Since the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Sacristy, the Chapel of the Saints, and the main Altar in 2012, there has been a marked increase in the number of faithful across economic and social status who visit the Shrine. They come from all over the Archdiocese, from the different dioceses and provinces, from Metro Manila and even from other countries.

On September 14, 2015, the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Padre Pio was declared as the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio. The CBCP declaration was read by Shrine Rector, Rev. Fr. Joselin C. Gonda during a concelebrated mass led by His Excellency Socrates Villegas, D.D., Archbishop of Lingayen.  

People come here to participate in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other sacraments and sacramentals. On a deeper level, they come here to pray and encounter God, to be evangelized by His Word and to beseech Him for blessings such as healing through the intercession of St. Padre Pio. Many people have confirmed stories of blessings and healing received through fervent prayers and devotion to this miraculous saint.

The Church Design

As envisioned by Rev. Fr. Joselin C. Gonda, the newly built church is a product of a nature and eco-friendly, Filipino and tropical design. Wood, stone, bamboo, and sasa define the Filipino character of the structure.

The roof of the church is shaped like a giant salakot to remind the faithful of how God protects us from all evil and harm just as how the salakot protects farmers and fishermen from the rains and from the heat of the sun. The whole concept created a unique, serene, and welcoming church that naturally draws people to pray and be inspired by God and nature which He created.

The Story of St. Padre Pio

          St. Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) O.F.M. Cap., (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968) was born to Grazio Mario Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio Forgione in Pietrelcina, a farming town in Southern Italy.

       St. Padre Pio was ordained a priest in 1910. On September 4, 1916, Father Pio was ordered to return to his community life. Thus he was moved to an agricultural community, Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, located in San Giovanni, Rotondo in Foggia. He stayed there until his death, bearing the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ for fifty years.

        St. Padre Pio became a spiritual director, guiding many spiritually, considering them his spiritual daughters and sons. He had five rules for spiritual growth, namely: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience.

        His advice on the practical application of theology he often summed up in his now famous quote, "Pray. Hope. Don’t worry." He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God. St. Padre Pio was canonized on June 16, 2002 by then Pope John Paul II who is now also a saint like him.

The Devotion

In the Catholic Church, a novena (from the Latin, novem, nine) is devotion consisting of prayer for nine straight days. The first novena started after the Lord’s ascension into heaven, when He told His disciples, together with the Blessed Virgin and other women, to pray together (Acts 1:14). They were rewarded with the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. A novena can either be a novena of mourning, a novena of preparation in festivities like Christmas, a novena for a special intention, or for the remission of sins.
The devotion to St. Padre Pio consists of novena prayers and other things:
a) Novena in honor of St. Padre Pio
     i. Novena in preparation for his Feast Day, September 14-22
       - For nine consecutive days we pray the novena, celebrate mass, sing the                 Dalit (Hymn to St. Padre Pio) and offer flowers to ask for special intentions 
          and express gratitude.
     ii. Novena prayers every Friday
       - Before the mass at 5 p.m., the devotees and parishioners always pray the 
         novena to ask for the Saint’s intercession and to be closer to God by 
         knowing St. Padre Pio more.
     iii. Novena prayers every St. Padre Pio Days
       - Every 23rd day of the month except in May (i.e., to celebrate St. Padre Pio’s 
          birth anniversary on the 25th), we pray the novena before the mass and the 
          liturgy of healing.
       - Every first and third Saturdays, we also pray the novena before the mass 
          and liturgy of healing.
b) Feast Day Celebration
     i) We celebrate masses practically the whole day in honor of St Padre Pio. 
         The concelebrated mass led by the Archbishop,  guest Bishops and priests 
          is held at 9 a.m.
     ii) We offer the relics of the Saint for veneration and devotion.
c) Healing Liturgy
     i) A short liturgy starts with the readings from the gospel of St. Luke 8:42 48.
     ii) A short homily is delivered by the priest and personal sharing and
         testimony of blessing and healing received by a devotee follows.

     iii) An invocation of the Holy Spirit follows with a song “Come Holy Spirit” while           raising hands in deep prayer.
     iv) Two prayers from the novena booklet are prayed to ask for St. Padre Pio’s              intercession.
     v) The people participating in the liturgy are then allowed to kiss the relics of               St. Padre Pio.
     vi) After kissing the relic, the faithful fall in line to be anointed with special oil 
         (not Chrism oil) by priests and religious only (lay people are not allowed to            anoint). The words being said while anointing is done on the forehead and            palms are: “Through the intercession of St. Padre Pio, may God grant you               healing of body, mind, heart, and spirit. In the name of the Father, and of    
          the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” (While this is being done, the choir 
          sings religious songs to further enhance their prayerful disposition.)

    vii) After the anointing they proceed to the image of St. Padre Pio 
           to continually beg for his intercession.
d) Bringing St. Padre Pio’s image and relics to different parishes and chapels to 
     provide people with devotion and novena in honor of the Saint, the celebration      of the Holy Eucharist and later with healing liturgy as it is done in the Shrine.

The Devotees

The charism of St. Padre Pio brings people to come to him and seek his intercession. St. Padre Pio is a saint of our time who lived in the last century as a holy person and priest. From all over the world, people flock to him for prayers and blessing. This started while he was still alive and serving in the Church of Our Lady of Grace, in San Giovanni, Rotondo. Millions of letters were sent to him asking for his prayers. So many people offered their testimonies of blessings and healing received through the Saint’s intercession.
Since the establishment of the Parish in 2003 and the declaration of the Church as a Lipa Archdiocesan Shrine in 2008, hundreds of thousands of people have come to the Shrine to ask for blessings from God through the intercession of St. Padre Pio. These devotees shared their experiences of grace by coming to the Shrine and expressing their devotion to the Saint.
These devotees started to come from the nearby parishes of the Archdiocese of Lipa until it spread to the whole province of Batangas. Soon, people from neighboring provinces and dioceses started to arrive. At present, devotees come from practically all over the country. A good number of foreigners and balikbayans continue to come to express their devotion to the beloved Saint.

Generally, these devotees come to be blessed by God through the Saint’s intercession. Once they receive the blessings they asked for, they come back to express their gratitude by offering flowers or candles as a manifestation of thanksgiving for grace received.

They come to attend St. Padre Pio Day every 23rd day of the month to join the novena prayers, celebration of the Mass and the liturgy of healing. Two more days are added for this day every first and third Saturdays. Still, the volume of devotees continues to increase.

They also come to buy religious items especially related to Padre Pio like images, prayer booklets, special Padre Pio oil, among others. They also visit the Chapel of the Living Water and get Holy Water for their use. We get many reports of healing with the use of this holy water. Before they leave they ask the priests to bless the religious items they bought.

Priests offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the devotees and pilgrims before the celebration of the Mass every Padre Pio Day on the 23rd day and every first and third Saturday of the month. Many devotees, especially the sick, also request priests to pray over them.

The Shrine offers hope to the devotees with meaningful liturgies and celebrations. Consequently, these devotees are inspired to share their experiences to others at the Shrine. Thus, more and more devotees and pilgrims come to the Shrine.