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By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2016 Journal GlobaLinks)

 

SANTA MARIA, Bulacan, Philippines (JGL) – Tucked away in a small Sitio Halang of Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria Bulacan in the Philippines is a small replica of Holy Land for Filipinos, who could pay a visit and make a retreat in place of the real deal in the Middle East during the coming Holy Week.


 

Thanks to Marian visionary, Brother Carmelo Cortez, whom I met in St. Constance Church in the northwest of Chicago, Illinois’ Jefferson Park district two years ago.

When I returned Brother Cortez’s visit last year in the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace, I stumbled on the mini Holy Land built beside the Shrine in Santa Maria, Bulacan guided by an old friend and businesswoman, Mhel Santa Ana and her beautiful daughter, Meg Panganiban. The mother and daughter are also residents of Balagtas, Bulacan.

Church on a hill

CHURCH ON A HILL: 

THE DIOCESAN SHRINE OF MARY, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace in Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines may be small but it looks imposing in this photo taken by this journalist. This will become a beehive of activity during this coming Holy Week as Catholic pilgrims will also visit the “Underground Museum” beside it that recreates the life and Passion of Jesus Christ and the Holy Family that could be seen in the Holy Land in the Middle East. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)


 

Since Brother Cortez was out of the country during our visit, we were entertained by an assistant, who identified himself simply as Raymundo.

Located on top of a hill, the Church of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace has a seating capacity of about 200 but it can fill up about 400 when it is standing room only (SRO). It was on Oct. 7, 2004 during the Feast Day of Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary when the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace was inaugurated under the tutelage of St. Pope John Paul II during the Year of the Holy Eucharist in connection with the 48th World Congress of the Eucharist.

PART OF DIOCESE OF MALOLOS

Shroud of Turin

SHROUD OF TURIN:

CHRISTIAN PILGRIMS need not travel to Turin, Italy, where the original shroud is kept. A replica of the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus Christ shortly after He was taken down from the cross is one of those on display in the “Underground Museum” that recreated the Holy Land by the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace in Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines. The Shroud is shown on the foreground while Mhel Sta. Ana, Joseph G. Lariosa and Meg Panganiban (right) look on. (JGL Photo) 


 

The church was consecrated at Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria under the auspices of Bishop Jose F. Oliveros, D.D. of the Diocese of Malolos, witnessed by RDO P. Reynaldo M. San Juan, Jr., Director, Commission on Liturgy, and RDO P. Pablo S. Legaspi, Jr., Bise Kansilyer.

Masses are celebrated in the Shrine on first Thursdays at 6 p.m., first Saturdays at 12 noon and every Sunday at 10 a.m.

Mass schedules

MASS SCHEDULES: 

A NOTICE IS POSTED in front of the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace in Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines. The church hosts the “Underground Museum” that recreated the Holy Land by the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace in Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa) 


 

If you are facing the altar of the church at right, you will notice an entrance of a small cave called “Underground Museum.” At the entrance, you will see a marker, which reads: “Ang munting replika ng HolyLand ng Santa Maria Diocese of Malolos, Bulacan Yungib ng buhay ni Jesus at ng Banal na Pamilya.” (A small replica of the Holy Land of Santa Maria, Diocese of Malolos, Bulacan cave of the life of Jesus and the Holy Family.)

Inside the cave, a guest will be greeted by “Archeology and the Bible” frame and a picture of St. John baptizing Jesus and another frame on “Genealogy of Jesus Christ.”

How JGL tracks down Holy Land

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: 

A VISIT BY Brother Carmelo Cortez (right) at St. Constance Church at the far northwest part of Chicago, Illinois two years ago gave Joseph G. Lariosa, a parishioner of the predominantly Polish Catholic church, a chance to interview Brother Cortez, who said that a church he is supporting is located in Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan in the Philippines. Please see story: Filipino Claims Virgin Mary Appeared To Him.  A visit at the place by the Journal GlobaLinks turned up with the presence of the “Underground Museum.” (JGL File Photo) 


 

There are several icons of the Child Jesus and a notice that says, “Ang lupang inyong tinatapakan ay orihinal na nagmula pa sa Holy Land. Manalangin po tayo para sa kapayapaan ng Israel at ng buong mundo.” (The land you are treading on had originally come from the HolyLand. Let’s pray for peace in Israel and the whole world.)

ANUNCIATION CAVE

The cave has also a replica of the Annunciation Cave, where the angel Gabriel informed Mary that she would give birth to Jesus in Nazareth, the home village of Mary, according to the Gospel of Luke. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph and Mary resettled in Nazareth after returning from the flight from Bethlehem to Egypt. The differences and possible contradictions between these two accounts of the nativity of Jesus form part of the synoptic problem. According to the Bible, Jesus grew up in Nazareth from some point in his childhood. However, some modern scholars also regard Nazareth as the birthplace of Jesus.

 Marian Visionary embraced by the Pope

MARIAN VISIONARY EMBRACED BY THE POPE:  

MARIAN VISIONARY Brother Carmelo Cortez probably was the only one in the Philippines to have been hugged by Pope Francis during the papal visit in the Philippines last year in a photo taken behind Joseph G. Lariosa of the Journal GlobaLinks. The photo was among the souvenirs on display in the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace in Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines. The Shrine hosts the “Underground Museum” that recreated the Holy Land. (JGL Photo)


 

The cave also featured the Passion of Christ, including the “Paghampas” (Scourging at the Pillar), The Flagellation of Christ, sometimes known as Christ at the Column. It is a scene from the Passion of Christ very frequently shown in Christian art, in cycles of the Passion or the larger subject of the Life of Christ. It is the fourth station of the modern alternate Stations of the Cross, and a Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary. The column to which Christ is normally tied, and the rope, scourge, whip or birch are elements in the Arma Christi. The Basilica di Santa Prassede in Rome, claimed to possess the original column.

Raymond said a lot of people troop to the cave during Holy Week. A lot of times, pilgrims come between 6 p.m. and 12 midnight. During ordinary day, pilgrims can come to the cave from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Audience with the Pope

AUDIENCE WITH THE POPE:

BISHOP JOSE F. OLIVEROS (top left), D.D., of the Diocese of Malolos, must be very proud and a happy camper when one of his big supporters, Marian Visionary Brother Carmelo Cortez and Carmelo’s wife, Rosita Cortez, were granted audience with Pope Francis in Rome. Brother Cortez is among the big fund-raisers that helped in the construction of Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace in Sitio Halang, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines. The shrine hosts an “Underground Museum” that recreated the Holy Land in the Philippines. (JGL Photograb from the Shrine’s collections) 


 

Visitors will also see the replica of the Shroud of Turin, a “centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. Whether it is really the cloth that wrapped his crucified body, or is simply a medieval forgery, a hoax perpetrated by some clever artist is still a big question mark, according to the website on the Shroud. But modern science has completed hundreds of thousands of hours of detailed study and intense research on the Shroud. It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history, and we know more about it today than we ever have before. And yet, the controversy still rages.”

Also to be witnessed is the Evidence of the Resurrection, Noah’s Ark and the Last Supper and other religious artifacts, icons, maps, photos and literature.

Outside the cave will be seen the Stations of the Cross and a huge icon of the Virgin Mary, which is visible from inside the Church. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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CHICAGO (JGL) – Pope Francis on Wednesday (Jan. 13) urged the Catholic faithful to respect other religions during remarks before leaders of four largest religious communities integral to the life of Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

 

During an interreligious and interfaith meeting at Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the Pontiff invoked the Second Vatican Council, where the Catholic Church declared her deep and abiding respect for other religions. She (the Catholic Church) “rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines.” (Nostra Aetate, 2). For my part, I wish to reaffirm the Church’s sincere respect for you, your traditions and beliefs.”

 

Catholics only make up about six percent of the 21 million Sri Lankans. Buddhists make up the majority while the rest are Hindus, Islams and Christians.

 

Also on hand at the meeting was the Most Venerable Itthapane Dhammalankara Maahanayake Thero, who said, “The love of the mother towards her child is neither Buddhist nor Christian. It is maternal. In the same way, the values such as love, self-sacrifice, kindness, peace and friendship, or the evils such as hatred, anger, jealousy and pride, do not belong to a special religion. They are values and evils, which belong to humanity.”

 

The first Argentinian Pope also thanked Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera and to the Venerable Vigithasiri Niyangoda Thero “for their kind words.”

 

Pope Francis said the Catholic Church is cooperating with all people of good will to seek the welfare of Sri Lankans and hopes that his visit will “encourage and deepen the various forms of interreligious and ecumenical cooperation which have been undertaken in recent years.”

 

 

FULL AND FORTRIGHT PRESENTATIONS

 

He said there is a need for full and forthright presentations for dialogue and encounter to be effective so it will open avenues for “mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship.”

 

The positive developments in interreligious and ecumenical relations can bring about healing and unity to Sri Lanka, whose men and women have been victims of civil strife and violence for a quarter of century.

 

“Men and women do not have to forsake their identity, ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters,” the Pope stressed.

 

He said religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war. We must be unequivocal in challenging our communities to live fully the tenets of peace and co-existence for each religion and to denounce acts of violence when they are committed.”

 

Brother Carmelo Cortez, who is part of the Filipino Papal delegation, summed up the message of the Pope during the two-day visit to Sri Lanka: “Katatapos lang ng presidential elections sa Sri Lanka. (Sri Lanka had just held a divisive presidential elections.) The people need healing.” 

 

He added, “Huwag tayo humusga (kung) nakikita nating (may) nagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan dahil tayong lahat ay matatawag na isang magnanakaw kung lagi tayo nagtitira at nagtatapon ng mga pagkain sa plato. Isang uri ito ng pagnanakaw sa mga nagugutom natin kapatid na naghihirap.” (Let’s not judge others if we see people stealing from the government because we ourselves are as guilty as thieves if we leave a lot of leftovers in our plate and throw them in the trash. This is one form of stealing from the poor, who are deprived of food from their plates.)

 

Brother Carmelo, a Marian visionary, was a recent guest in several churches in Chicago, Illinois, where he met this reporter. He sent this reporter a video clip (http://t.co/clJXEarMFe) showing a group in Rome praying for the safety of the Pope in his Asian trip last Sunday (Jan. 11), and other photos during the trip, and a copy of the remarks of Pope Francis.

 

On Thursday, the Pope heads to the Philippines, the largest Roman Catholic country in Asia and third largest in the world, for the final leg of the journey.
In Tacloban, he'll comfort victims of the devastating 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, displaced some 4 million and turned a huge densely populated region into a wasteland.
Millions of Filipinos are expected to turn out for his events, possibly surpassing the record five million who turned out for the last papal visit by St. John Paul II in 1995. Themes Francis is expected to raise are related to the family, poverty and the environment. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
 

 

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CHICAGO (JGL) – Some Filipino journalists, covering the visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines next week, may have to learn some Italian.
A press release sent to this reporter by one of the entourage of Pope Francis traveling to Sri-Lanka and the Philippines was written in Italian.

 

Brother Carmelo Cortez, a Marian visionary this reporter met last month in Chicago, Illinois, obliged this reporter’s request for some public information that he may gather during the Papal trip.

 

Brother Cortez said that he would be traveling with the Pope from Rome to Sri-Lanka and to the Philippines.

 

According to the press release from the Holy See released Friday (Jan. 9), it was announced that the Pope is traveling from January 12-19 to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

 

The press release was given to journalists accredited to cover the Papal trip to the two countries.

 

It said the Pope is leaving Rome on Monday, Jan. 12, bound to Colombo, Sri Lanka that will cover a distance of 7,630 kilometers (4,741 miles). The travel time will last for nine hours and 30 minutes on board Alitalia A330 airline.

 

On Thursday, Jan. 15, the Pope will be leaving Colombo for Manila on board Sri Lankan A340 airline. The travel time will last six hours and 15 minutes.

 

On Saturday, Jan. 17, Pope Francis will leave Manila for Tacloban on board Philippine Airlines A320, a travel that will last for one hour and 15 minutes. He will leave Tacloban and return to Manila on the same day.

 

The Pope leaves Manila for Rome on Monday, Jan. 19, on board Philippine Airlines 340 for a travel time that will last 14 hours and four  minutes.

 

It says Colombo time is five hours ahead of Rome while Manila time is eight hours ahead of Rome.

 

Benvenuto al Santo Padre per le Filippine! (Welcome Pope to the Philippines!) (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

 

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For everybody, one’s belief is the first and last refuge.

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