Filipino Catholics and devotees will have until March 31 to honor and venerate the incorrupt heart relic of St. Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of the sick, doctors, nurses and other health workers. It arrived on February 2 and has been going around the country’s various parishes and hospitals.
The heart relic has visited various churches in Metro Manila and Luzon (Pangasinan, Baguio, Batangas, San Pablo and Naga) during the month of February. From March 2 to 11, the relic will be in the Visayas region (Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo and Bacolod) after which it will proceed to Mindanao (Davao and Cagayan de Oro). On March 24, the relic will make the rounds of churches in Metro Manila again. From March 30 until its departure on March 31, it will be in Manila Cathedral.
The complete schedule and itinerary of the relic’s visit are posted on social media accounts and websites of the Camillians. The heart relic of the Founder of the Ministers of the Infirm (Camillians) first visited the country in 2013, when it stayed for almost a month (from February 18 to March 10).
St. Camillus’ heart was taken an hour after his death on July 14, 1614 and the relic is enshrined at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Rome, Italy, where he was buried. The relic of the heart of St. Camillus is contained in a crystal glass, in the shape of a heart. The crystal glass measures 11 cm (height), 10 cm (width) and 7 cm (depth) (tridimensional view).
The reliquary that holds the crystal glass evokes an old, classical style temple. Four Doric pillars are the base and support the dome on top of which stands the Cross, symbol of the Order of St. Camillus. In the inner part of the temple-like, two angels support the crystal glass with elegance and gentleness, leaning forward as if presenting the Relic to the faithful.The Camillians are known especially for their dedication and commitment in serving and taking care of the sick, particularly the poor. They are active in ministries like hospitals and hospital chaplaincy, parishes, pastoral centers, home for the aged, lepers, HIV/AIDS centers and, other healthcare centers or where the sick are present.
St. Camillus himself in his lifetime had experience being sick himself (he had a sore in his leg that would not heal) and spent a lot of time in hospitals, where he also later on served as a caregiver. The experience made him realize that God has called him to serve the sick. It also led him to establish a religious congregation dedicated solely to care for the sick— the Ministers of the Sick (popularly known as Camillians).
Camillian presence in the Philippines started in 1974 and the Philippine Province of the Camillian Order was formally established on July 1, 2003. The Camillians of the Philippine Province exercise their ministry in Luzon (Quezon City, Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Antipolo and Baguio City), in the Visayas (Calbayog and Balugo, Dumanguete) and in Mindanao (Davao City and Mati, Davao, Oriental).