BISHOP Baylon pays his respect to the Pope Saint thru his miniature image on display at the exhibit. RHAYDZ B. BARCIA
LEGAZPI CITY --- Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi is earnestly hoping that a 100-foot high statue of St. John Paul 11 will rise at Kapuntukan Hill to protect the Albayanos from harm, specifically during bad weather.
The Kapuntukan Hill, also referred to as the “Sleeping Lion,” whose peak resembles a lion’s hunched shoulders stands like a sentinel guarding the city’s harbor along Albay Gulf.
Bishop Baylon’s aspiration was announced publicly during the opening of St. John Paul 11 exhibit where his mementos were unveiled at Museo de Legazpi here for the first time.
He said that St. John Paul 11
holds a very special place in the Bicolanos’ heart as the Pope visited Legazpi City, the first and only Pope that set foot in this city 38 years ago.
“We remembered these things because St. John Paull 11 holds a very special place in our heart. This historic event of the Holy Father (St. John Paul 11) coming to Legazpi is something that would never be repeated again by a Pope to visit us. So this is something we really treasure. This man who visited us is now a saint,” the Legazpi prelate said.
Baylon recalled his remarkable engagement and the privilege where he dined and celebrated a mass with the Holy Father who according to him demonstrated humility and simplicity despite his being a Pope.
“It was the simplicity of the Pope that struck me most. There were no protocol; he eats like a farmer. He was the Pope that started love for the young. He started the World Youth Day in 1995. He reminded the young that they have a role to play. He visited even his assassin,” Bishop Baylon said.
In 2014 when the Pontiff was canonized, former Vice Mayor Vitorio “Bitoy” Roces according to Bishop Baylon told him that the city government of Legazpi is planning to put up a marker in honor of St. John Paul 11.
Baylon hopes that a statue of the St. John Paul II will be put up at Kapuntukan Hill facing Albay Gulf.
“We are overjoyed that the Holy Father who visited us was canonized as St. John Paul 11. So, I told former Vice Mayor Bitoy Roces that instead of putting up a marker why not tell the mayor or the governor to erect a 100-foot statue of St. John Paul II. Maybe, one day a 100-foot image of St. John Paul 11 will be put up at Sleeping Lion to protect us from harm,” he said during the opening of exhibit here.
The Museo de Legazpi showcased for the first time the life story and memorabilia of St. John Paul II after 38 years ago that he set foot in Legazpi City. The exhibit coincided with the visit of his relic at St. Gregory the Great Cathedral here.
Darlito Perez, Museo de Legazpi curator, said that it took them a year to collate the memorabilia of St. John Paul II after the Diocese of Legazpi gave the green light and entrusted to Museo De Legazpi the memorabilia of the Blessed John, including those of the people of Legazpi.
St. John Paul 11 landed at Legazpi City Domestic Airport at 8:00 in the morning where Bicolanos from all over the region flocked and waited to see him as he motored through the city’s major roads to the Peñaranda Park, accompanied by then First Lady Imelda Marcos and other dignitaries. The Pope then celebrated a high mass dedicated to the farmers.
The exhibit is open to public from Monday to Friday and will run until October this year at Museo de legazpi located at the Gregorian mall in Albay District in front of St. Gregory the Great, Albay Catherdal here.