Fr. Gino Leonardi, OSM
When I first came to the Philippines in 1986, I never thought that the devotion to Saint Peregrine would develop greatly. For this, my heart rejoices and I am grateful to the Lord.
Everything began in 1984 when the first four Servite Fathers who came to the Philippines to set the foundation for the Order of the Servants of Mary brought with them a relic of Saint Peregrine. It was donated by the friars in Forli, the native city of the saint. It was a piece of rib, about as big as a phalanx, taken during one of the examinations doned to assess the condition of the saint’s body which lies uncorrupted in the Servite church dedicated to him. Later, as we were willing to share this devotion
with the parishioners, we decided to preserve the relic in a silver reliquary especially made in the Philippines.
For many months, the relic remained in my room. But one day, on exactly the 05th of September 1992, somebody invited me to go and pray over a sick lady who was suffering from cancer of the throat in Barangay Tunasan, Muntinlupa City. “No!” was my first answer. Then, upon the insistence of the devotee, I opted to bring the relic to the house of the sick lady. I was quite embarrassed because I had never prayed over anyone, but the faith, trust, and hope of the lady’s relatives gave me the courage to start the healing prayer. Then I anointed the diseased throat with my hands and finally blessed the lady with the relic from St. Peregrine. I immediately saw peace flowing into her and she fell asleep. A month later, the lady died, but peace and the absence of pain accompanied her through the final days of her life.
The news spread immediately through the small village. Since then, many other sick people have asked for healing prayer. Then, a group of volunteers offered themselves to enter the presence of these ill people to prepare them with healing prayer. Statutes were also made in order to regulate these healing activities.
A Healing Mass was celebrated on a monthly basis. The Community of Forli donated another amazing relic: a full rib upon which bits of St. Peregrine’s flesh could be seen. The Parish Church and Shrine to St. Peregrine were built on the National Road going to San Pedro, Laguna. Indeed, the devotion to St. Peregrine has achieved its greatest development.
I no longer live in the Philippines as I have been assigned to a mission in Uganda where we will once again try to implant the Order of the Servants of Mary. Will we be able to spread the devogtion to Saint Peregrine in Africa?
I really hope so, even if the conditions are quite different from those in the Philippines. I really pray that Africans will one day come to know of and avail of the protection of St. Peregrine and, through him, come to experiene the healing love and power of Jesus Christ, our true and only Healer and savior.
Author’s Note: The “group of volunteers” mentioned above by Fr. Gino were the first members of the healing ministry which was organized in Oct. 1992 at the Mary of the Servants Seminary and was initially called St. Peregrine Ministry, then later on St. Peregrine Group and finally the St. Peregrine Healing Ministry