Philippines to host world’s tallest Marian statue

Manila, October 27, 2019: The tallest statue of the Virgin Mary in the world is about to be ready in the Philippines. Almost 100 meters (315 feet) high, the statue is expected to be ready in 2021, in time for the 500thanniversary of Christianity’s arrival in the Philippines The Marian monument-sculpture-shrine of The Mother of All Asia, also called “The Tower of Peace,” is located at the Montemaría (literally, “Mary’s Mount”) Pilgrimage Site in Batangas City, some 310 km south of the national capital of Manila. It was designed by the renowned (and recently deceased) constructivist Filipino sculptor Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo.

The Mother of All Asia will then be the tallest statue of the Virgin Mary in the world, a position now occupied by the Venezuelan 153-feet-tall “Our Lady of Peace” statue, which was built in 1983. The Montemaría Pilgrimage site’s centerpiece, this image of the Virgin Mary is dedicated to the unity and peace of all peoples and countries in Southeast Asia. With a floor area of around 130,000 square feet, the monument will house a St. John Paul II shrine, 12 Marian chapels in the third floor, a food hall on the fourth, mini theaters and conference rooms, and even commercial and residential spaces, and is crowned with a viewing deck on the 17th floor.

Rome, Italy, Oct 24, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- As the pastor of a parish in which many families lost a mother, father, or child in a bombing on Easter Sunday, Fr. Jude Raj Fernando has seen how healing from loss can be a long, difficult journey of faith.Fr. Fernando is the rector of St. Anthony’s shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka — one of the churches bombed during the Easter attacks by a group affiliated with Islamic State that killed 258 people in April. He spoke of his painful pastoral experience Oct. 24 at an Aid to the Church in Need event in Rome on the ongoing persecution of Christians.

“I had never heard a sound like that. My first words after the blast were ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do,’” Fernando said, beginning to weep as he remembered the parishioners at Mass the day of the bombing. “There was a young couple married eight months before together at Easter Sunday Mass … and a man who had given an older lady his seat … a pregnant mother who lost her husband.” He noted that this woman gave birth to a healthy baby last week and she is now a single mother.

Along with offering trauma counseling at the parish, Fernando said that the local Church remains committed to aiding the religious education of the children who lost parents and occupational training for households that lost their breadwinner. People at the parish are still asking, “Why did God allow this to happen to us?” he said. A young child asked him ‘why did God take my mother from me at church?’

“We priests walked this difficult journey with our victims,” Fernando said. “It is a long journey of faith.” “Please continue to pray for us … we can overcome evil with the love in our hearts,” he said. “Our faith is stronger than their bomb.”Fr. Fernando spoke in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island, a basilica devoted to the Church’s modern martyrs and home to 120 relics of persecuted Christian communities around the world.

The Sri Lankan priest presented the basilica with items from St. Anthony’s church in Colombo that survived the bombing during the Aid to the Church in Need event “Persecuted more than ever.”“This place, the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island, is a testimony,” said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation of Oriental Churches, “to this dimension of the Church’s today … surrounded by innumerable signs, coming from the various continents, men and women who gave their lives for the Lord Jesus.”

“They make us sure that the passion of Christ continues in the children of the Church, as He tells us in the Gospel ‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too,’ but they also ask us to purify our heart and our eyes, learning to live all these experiences in faith,” the cardinal said.

The Aid to the Church in Need report on Christian persecution 2017-2019 defined Iraq, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Sudan, Eritrea, North Korea, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Pakistan, India and Myanmar as countries with the most severe persecution of Christians.

Cardinal Sandri said that an awareness of this ongoing persecution should also always be framed by the victory of Christ, who tells us “take courage, I have conquered the world.” ….