On the first Sunday of the month of December, the city of Manila holds a grand procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This tradition was revived some thirty years ago and is one of the most popular Catholic events in the city. Socialites come in droves, 'fighting' for the honor of who gets to be Hermano and Hermana Mayor. The procession this year included some 80 images of the Blessed Virgin Mary; however, despite this, the one detail that really caught my attention was the following story. From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:
For the first time, a reliquary containing the Rosary of St. Padre Pio will be part of the carroza of the Virgen de la Verdad, to be brought by Gaudencio “Boy” Ponce for the procession on Dec. 6. The Rosary was given to Boy Ponce who was l3 years old when his grandmother Fortunata Balingit Ponce brought him to San Giovanni Rotondo in April l963. Remembering that time, Boy told me that the Mass to be said by Padre Pio was at 5 a.m. He went with his lola early wearing the St. Anthony habit, since he was dedicated to the saint as a child.
One of the priests saw him and asked if he spoke Latin (which he did) and if he could serve in the Mass. It was an experience of a lifetime. Even now, Boy remembers every detail, as they waited patiently while Padre Pio said the Mass. It took all of two hours. After the Mass, Padre Pio, out of the blue, gave Boy his Rosary, which he has kept to this day. The Rosary has been borrowed several times by sick friends, and it helped in their healing.
What an honor is must have been for Mr. Ponce!