Philippine envoy to Vatican recalls encounter with Pope

(The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2015 - 9:00am

VATICAN CITY – Stories about Pope Francis’ fondness of Filipinos continue to flourish and the Philippines’ envoy to this sovereign state has her own tale to tell.

Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Tuason got an unusual greeting from the pontiff when she attended a Wednesday general audience.

The event is usually held at St. Peter’s Square and allows pilgrims from other countries to see the pope and receive his apostolic blessing.

“One time, Pope Francis saw me at a Wednesday audience. His Holiness told my companions, ‘This one will not be accepted below. She will go straight up,” Tuason said in an interview.

“I wish he was talking infallibly on the issue,” she added, alluding to the doctrine of infallibility, which states that the pope cannot err on official Church teachings on faith and morals.

Tuason, who assumed her post in 2009, is known for her role in civic and charitable groups, including the Center for Peace Asia, Apostolate for Family Consecration, Bigay Puso Foundation, the Family Rosary Crusade, Red Cross, and Hero Foundation.

She said Pope Francis did not forget the intimate name given to him by Filipinos during his visit to the Philippines last January. 

“You must all know of our intimate name for him, Lolo Kiko, which he fondly talks about even to his bishops,” the envoy said.

The Philippines and Vatican City will mark the 65th year of its diplomatic relations next year.

“We have been blessed with the visits of three popes – Paul VI, John Paull II and Pope Francis. We have witnessed the canonization of two saints – San Lorenzo Ruiz and Saint Pedro Calungsod. I would say these are among the highlights of our 65 years of diplomacy,” she said.

Another milestone of the diplomatic ties between the two countries is the designation of an official residence for the Filipino clergy called Pontificio Collegio Filippino. 

The Collegio was intended to house and train Filipino clergy on various ecclesiastical disciplines.

Tuason said the Collegio has become “a vital arm” of the Church in its spiritual undertaking in the Philippines, where more than 80 percent of the population is Catholic. 

President Aquino met with Pope Francis last Friday to reciprocate the pontiff’s visit to the Philippines last January.

Aquino also witnessed the unveiling and blessing of the mosaic image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicol. 

The mosaic image was created by Italian mosaicist Roberto Cassio and was installed in the Vatican Gardens, where other images of the Virgin Mary are displayed.

The Philippines will be the 10th country to have its own nationally-venerated image of the Virgin Mary installed in the Vatican Gardens. The display of the Marian images allows pilgrims from around the world to discover the various devotions to the Blessed Virgin.

Aquino’s visit came as the Philippine Catholic Church is preparing to host the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu in January. 

Comforting feeling

Meeting the pope at the Vatican City gives a comforting feeling, President Aquino said yesterday upon his arrival from Rome.

In a speech delivered at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, Aquino said the most striking trait of the pope was his humility and that he told him “Filipinos love you very much.”

The President said he sought prayers for peace, justice and prosperity in the country. – Alexis Romero, Aurea Calica

 

 

ACIRC ALEXIS ROMERO AQUINO AUREA CALICA NBSP POPE POPE FRANCIS PRESIDENT AQUINO TUASON VATICAN GARDENS VIRGIN MARY
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