Priest says 3M people drawn to shrine
LUCBAN, Quezon—A shrine here being administered by a priest with a huge following because of belief in his healing powers has drawn between one to three million pilgrims during the Holy Week, according to police and the priest.
Fr. Joey Faller, administrator of the Kamay ni Hesus (Hand of Jesus or KNH) shrine, attributed the popularity of the shrine to continuing faith in the Catholic religion that received a boost from the visit of Pope Francis in the country in January.
Faller said the pilgrims included young people who, he said, had been drawn closer to Catholicism by Francis’ visit.
The youth, said Faller, composed majority of this year’s Lenten visitors to the shrine.
“They now find themselves wanting to reach out to the Lord,” said Faller. “Inside the shrine, one can experience talking to Him,” he said.
Several young people, interviewed by Inquirer, boosted Faller’s conclusion.
“Pope Francis’ endearing challenge to the Filipino youth has energized my faith,” said Anna Villa, a college junior from Calamba, Laguna.
A teenage boy, after kissing the ground upon arrival at the shrine, said he wanted to become a priest.
On Holy Thursday and Good Friday, there was no break in the long line of pilgrims waiting for their turn to climb the 300-step stairway leading to a 50-foot statue of the Risen Christ.
Pilgrims had to wait up to three hours to enter the gate leading to the stairway.
Quoting security personnel, Faller said the number of pilgrims who came to the shrine could reach three million.
Chief Insp. Reynaldo Kasilag, Lucban police chief, cited a report from a local radio group as saying the number of pilgrims on Good Friday alone reached a million.
The shrine is under the supervision of the Diocese of Lucena headed by Bishop Emilio Marquez.
The compound kept its gates open 24 hours on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. On regular days, the shrine is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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