Pilgrims flock to Southern Leyte’s St. Francis Javier Shrine

April 3, 2015 6:58 am 

By Vicky C. Arnaiz

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, April 2 (PNA) – Thousands of pilgrims have been flocking the San Francisco Javier Shrine (St. Francis Javier Shrine) in this city to ask favor this Lenten season.

The shrine, otherwise known as Dagkutanan (where one lights candle to offer a prayer and make wishes), is a famous stopover for pilgrims during Holy Week especially on Good Friday, but pilgrims have been going to the site since Sunday.

Close to 300,000 pilgrims from Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country visit the shrine to thank Señor Francisco for all the favors granted them or to ask favors, according to Fiorello Demeterio, Jr. city administrator.

Demeterio said that the local government unit has extended extra police enforcers spread in the area to secure the tourists and pilgrims.

Mikko Duero, a food blogger of Definitely Pinoy from Palo, Leyte and his wife visited the shrine two times last year and are planning for their third visit this week.

He said that middle of last year, his wife suffered a bad case of staphylococcal infection, a skin disease and were hoping the pilgrimage may help cure through trekking the steep trail and praying to Señor Francisco.

Duero added that it was his wife who suggested they go to the shrine because she heard a lot about the miraculous shrine.

When they reached the chapel at the top of the hill, they prayed and the lay minister got the small image of St. Francis Xavier, lay it over their shoulders and then their heads.

“It was a ritual that makes a connection between the pilgrims and the saint for him to hear our prayers and let God answers it,” Duero added.

Four months after, they returned to thank the saint for healing Duero’s wife. He said they planned to visit for the third time because his wife recently graduated from electronics engineering.

St. Francis Javier was born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta born on April 7, 1506. He died on December 3, 1552, and the shrine in Hanginan, Maasin City celebrates his feast day every December 3.

The saint is a favorite of students, the sick and soldiers. Students who take the board examination and soldiers going to combat arrive safe after the combat operation.

Dumalagan is from the nearby Basak village in the city and has been assigned in Mindanao and Bicol regions.

“I feel safe in our every combat operation,” Dumalagan said.

The army officer always go to the shrine every Good Friday as long as he can remember, and I don’t fail to visit when I am in Maasin, even if there is typhoon. “That’s how devoted I am,” he said.

“I graduated in Saint Joseph College Night Class and was a working student in college. I worked at the Pope Paul VI Seminary as a driver after college, before I applied with the Philippine Army. I attributed my success to God and my devotion to Señor San Francisco,” Dumalagan said.

One can reach Hanginan through Isagani village, the entrance from the national highway. The two-kilometer trail is steep and rough, but it’s a shorter route and the middle part has 300 concrete steps going to the shrine.

The terrain maybe difficult, but the magnificent view at the top of the chapel makes up for it.

Upon reaching the hilltop where the chapel is located, you will be rewarded with the magnificent view of Maasin City and the green mountains.

One can also go to the chapel via Soro-soro village riding a private vehicle through a uphill access road until the junction or ride a single motorcycle for PHP100.

Isagani village is seven kilometers from the city proper and the transportation is PHP10.

Before, the pilgrims used to come to San Francisco Shrine on Fridays, but in the recent years, people come anytime but most amazing is on good Friday where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims start trekking at 1a.m. to one of the highest point in Maasin City to be blessed and experience the miracle of St. Francis Javier (PNA)

CTB/SQM/VCA

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