Pope Francis, right, gestures as he talks with journalists during his flight from Manila to Rome, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Pope Francis flew home Monday after a weeklong trip to Asia, where he called for unity in Sri Lanka after a civil war and asked Filipinos to be "missionaries of the faith" in the world's most populous continent after a record crowd joined his final Mass in the Philippine capital. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Aside from powerful memories, Pope brought home vestments
MANILA, Philippines–When Pope Francis returned to the Vatican, he brought home powerful memories of Filipinos’ strength and undying faith, and a few keepsakes that will make him remember all these.
Henrietta de Villa, former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican, on Tuesday said the 78-year-old Argentine Pontiff kept the vestments that he used to celebrate Holy Masses during his four-day apostolic visit to the Philippines.
“We asked if the Pope was going to leave the vestments here or take them with him. We were told that he was bringing them home to Rome,” she told reporters in an interview.
De Villa, who was part of the papal visit committee, said it was the first time a Pope took home liturgical garments provided him for his visit to the Philippines. “The Popes who came here before left the vestments for the use of the Church,” she said.
Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines in 1970 while Pope John Paul II, now a saint, came to the country twice—in February 1981 for the beatification of the first Filipino martyr, Lorenzo Ruiz, and in January 1995 for the World Youth Day.
Made by Disenio Sagrado
Asked why Pope Francis chose to bring home the vestments, De Villa said: “He was very touched [by the Filipinos]. The gifts that were given to him here, he will surely keep them as his own. [The vestments] are like souvenirs of the love of the Filipinos.”
The vestments that Pope Francis wore for the Holy Mass he celebrated at Manila Cathedral, at Quirino Grandstand and in Tacloban City were created by a couple from Bulacan province, who own a garments shop called Disenio Sagrado.
The shop has clothed thousands of clergymen, including Catholic Church leaders, like Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros. It was also tapped to produce 2,500 stoles for the bishops and priests who attended the Masses officiated by the Pope.
The vestments were embroidered with designs featuring sampaguita, anahaw leaves and bamboo—symbols of Filipino hospitality and resilience, according to its makers, Ronald Allan and Maricel Babaran.
De Villa was among those who met with Pope Francis before he attended the youth rally on Sunday morning. She gave the Holy Father a jacket and a T-shirt. She received a hug and a rosary in return, she said.
Tagle and his family were also present during that meeting with the Pope as well as Archbishop Socrates Villegas and his mother and sibling and other staff of the nunciature, De Villa said.