‘How 20 days with Padre Pio’s incorrupt heart changed me’

‘How 20 days with Padre Pio’s incorrupt heart changed me’

Roy Alfonso Santiago, Jr., kisses the first-class relic of St. Padre Pio’s incorruptible heart during its visit to the Philippines in October 2018. SANTIAGO’S FB ACCOUNT

By Minnie Agdeppa

Dec. 9. 2018

MANILA

After spending 20 days accompanying the incorrupt heart relic of St. Padre Pio during its recent visit to the Philippines, a young respiratory-physiotherapist attempts to describe how the experience has changed him.

“Actually, I noticed that I am a bit patient in everything now, and also I’m less anxious in everything knowing that God is there helping me in my everyday life,” said Roy Alfonso Santiago, Jr. in Filipino.

Santiago, who was the assistant head for the Liturgical Committee of the Visit of the Incorrupt Heart Relic of St. Padre Pio to the Philippines from Oct. 6 to 26, admitted that he is “very impatient.”

Before and after

“… I want to get the result ASAP,” he said, describing himself before he encountered the incorrupt heart relic of St. Padre Pio in October.

Santiago was with the relic wherever it went from its arrival in Sto. Tomas, Batangas; to Manila, to Cebu, back to Batangas, and up to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City for its departure for San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.

He said the first time he got to kiss the relic on Oct. 23 at the Sacristy of the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, it was an unforgettable experience.

Encounters with Padre Pio

“I cannot explain the feeling. All I know is that the feeling was warm,” the San Andres, Manila resident said, quickly adding, “Afterwards, I cried.”

“I forgot to pray for myself. Seriously! That’s why I prayed [for myself] only after they left,” he said, shedding light on the story behind the photo of himself kissing the relic.

Santiago posted online on Oct. 30 a picture of himself kissing the relic dressed in a white sutana. He wrote “As I kissed the Heart of Saint Padre Pio, I prayed for those who are close to my heart, for those who asked for prayers, and for those who I promised to pray for.”

Aside from this, Santiago, who got to kiss the relic twice, said his most memorable experience was when he saw elderly people crying after venerating the relic.

“I just [asked] one wheelchair-bound grandmother why she was crying. She answered, ‘I feel the presence of Jesus Christ, it’s as if it was Him I spoke to’. That moment, I was touched and I shed tears. Indeed! God is with us,” he said in Filipino.

Asked to describe St. Padre Pio, Santiago said: “The heart [that] forgives and the heart [that] keeps on loving, like Jesus.”

‘Little way’

Santiago got to be involved with the relic’s visit only because he asked a priest-friend of the Ministry on Liturgy of the Archdiocese of Lipa if there was “anything he can help them with.”

He said what inspired him to take a leave from hospital duty for almost a month to join the liturgical committee was his deep gratitude towards St. Padre Pio. Santiago said it was his “little way” of showing gratitude to the saint whose intercession greatly helped his family recover from business bankruptcy when he and his siblings were still studying years ago.

“I asked Padre Pio how can I repay him [although I know I never really can.] Then this [happened], I was able to volunteer for the visit of his heart,” he explained.