Saint's preserved heart to arrive in PH

For devout Catholics, Camillus de Lellis is a familiar name whose intercession is implored in times of illness.

Even those not familiar with the patron saint of the sick, hospitals and health workers see his work in the hands of priests in his order, known as the Ministers of the Sick or simply "the Camillians."

In February, however, followers can get a glimpse of St. Camillus' blessed remains: his preserved heart.

Related story: A blessed day: Philippines gets second Catholic Saint

St. Camillus' relic will arrive in the Philippines Feb. 18, said Camillian priest Dan Cancino of the Episcopal Commssion on Healthcare of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

The saint's blessed remains will have a series of pilgrimages in the country before being flown back to Rome March 11, he added.

A mass and veneration rites will be held 6 p.m. upon the relic's arrival at the Our Lady of La Paz Parish in Makati, where St. Camillus heart will be displayed until Feb. 19.

Masses for the sick will meanwhile be held on Feb. 23 at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish in Paco, Manila (8:30 a.m.) and the St. Camillus College Seminary Chapel in Marikina City (5 p.m.).

On March 10, closing ceremonies will be held 4 p.m. at St. Camillus and San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel in Quezon City.

Also read: Pope urges Catholics to rekindle faith

The pilgrimage is "a special moment for the sick to deepen their devotion and relationship with St. Camillus especially in experiencing the ever-present love of Christ to them," Cancino said further.

Although noting that relics "do not possess magical or miraculous powers," the priest nonetheless encouraged praying before them "because they strengthen our faith in Christ."

A primer emailed to Yahoo! Southeast Asia explained that a relic is a "part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, else another type of ancient religious object" preserved for veneration.

St. Camillus' heart is encased in a glass heart-shaped encased glass, displayed in an elaborately designed dome-shaped reliquary.

In other news: Pinoy 'kasambahays' overworked, underpaid, UN says

The relic's visit to the Philippines is part of a global pilgrimage in anticipation of St. Camillus' 400-year death anniversary celebration.

The Catholic saint died in July 14, 1614, after a life dedicated to caring for the sick through his congregation officially recognized by the Vatican as a religious order in 1586.

Pope Benedict XIV beatified Camillus in 1742 and canonized him the four years later, naming him the founder of "a new school of charity."

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