LEGAZPI CITY: A giant statue of Pope John Paul II will be constructed on top of Kapuntukan Hill in memory of the Pope’s visit to this city 30 years ago.
Legazpi City Vice Mayor Bitorio “Bitoy”Roces made the announcement on Tuesday, saying the statue will be similar to that of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.
“His [Blessed John Paul II] statue could have been built even before his canonization if only the ownership of the Kapuntukan Hill issue was settled. This time we will put it in his memory. We’re very lucky because the beloved Saint set foot in our place,” Roces said.
Legazpi Diocese Bishop Joey “Bong” Baylon recalled that around 1 million people gathered at the Peñaranda Park down to the main thoroughfares of Rizal Street to hear the Pope deliver a message on February 21, 1981.
“The Pope’s visit was the most festive celebration in the history of Legazpi wherein people from all walks of life, together with their children, gathered under the heat of the sun. Even the dignitaries queued and sat on the ground just to be with the beloved Blessed John Paul 11,” Bishop Baylon told The Manila Times.
During the Pontifical Mass on Sunday, thousands of parishioners joined the procession led by the clergies of the Diocese of Legazpi from the St. Gregory the Great Cathedral to Albay Astrodome where the Holy Mass was presided by Bishop Baylon during the canonization day of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.
In his homily, Bishop Baylon said the two Saints shared the same passion for love of the poor and both instruments of peace.
“They’re both men of peace. Before he [Blessed John XXIII]was a Pope, he was the instrument of peace and mediated for diplomacy so war could be prevented. He opened the gate to the people during the Second Vatican Council. He embraced the poor. He was the man who always willing to reach out the poor, the least and the last,” Bishop Baylon said.
“Blessed [John Paul II] bring in the church across the globe. Pope John Paul II is the same, a man of peace. He reached out to his assassin and embraced his own suffering,” he added.
“The poor is the face of Jesus Christ, we should embrace them. Like our new Saints, we are the John XX111 and John Paul 11 in this modern time,” he said.
After the Pontifical Mass, the skull cap used by Blessed Pope John Paul II during his Mass in Legazpi City which was left at Albay Cathedral was put on display for the devotees.
An exhibit of relics and memorabilia of Pope John Paul II’s visit is ongoing at the Albay Cathedral.