The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday elevated the country’s first and only diocesan shrine dedicated to Saint John Paul II to a national shrine.
The shrine and parish is located at the village of Culis in Bataan province’s Hermosa town.
It is dedicated to the pope who visited a refugee center in Bataan’s Morong town for some 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians who fled conflict in their countries during the late 1970s.
The CBCP made the decision at their ongoing plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
Reacting to the decision, Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Balanga diocese said the new national shrine “is the gift of the Philippine Church to the whole world”.
“We will show to them the identity of the Filipinos who are always ready to welcome and help other people, especially the migrants and the refugees,” Santos said.
The shrine was originally located at the spot where St. John Paul held Mass with the refugees, which is now the Bataan Technological Park in Morong.
In order to accommodate more pilgrims, the shrine was transferred to Culis, located right at the boundary between Bataan and Pampanga provinces.
The new shrine edifice was rededicated on Feb. 21, 2021, the 40th year of the pope’s visit to the refugee camp, during Mass presided over by Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.
The St. John Paul II Church is the 28th national shrine in the Philippines.