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Bicol’s ailing archbishop claims to have been healed by Virgin Mary

Source: – Shiena Barrameda, Inquirer Southern Luzon

NAGA CITY, Philippines — Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi has claimed that he has been healed of his tumors by the Lady of Peñafrancia, an image of the Virgin Mary long venerated by many Filipino Catholics for miracles.

Legaspi made the declaration on Monday during a press conference organized by the Archdiocese of Caceres at the Archbishop’s Palace here in the city.

He said he had been suffering from the tumors in his lungs but last Saturday, his physician was astounded to find no more traces of the nodes or tumors.

He said the tumors were first spotted by his doctors in January 2009.

The tumors had caused him to undergo two sessions of chemotherapy and had kept him in turmoil until he almost lost all hope of getting well again.

Legaspi said he was initially found to be afflicted with stage three lung cancer and was advised to undergo surgery in Manila in 2009. However, the doctors found him unfit for the operation, putting him under chemotherapy instead.

“We were not prepared for the good news. I was even shocked when he said it,” Fr. Wilmer Tria said in a phone interview.

Tria, one of the heads of the Madrigal Foundation, was also present during the press conference.

“At first, we were just discussing the role of the media to avoid unnecessary publicity, which we got last year after a priest was punched during a procession. Then, he (Legaspi) suddenly said that he is healed now. He’s no longer sick of lung cancer,” Tria said.

According to Tria, the Archbishop admitted that he never asked for the miracle himself. Instead, Legaspi was thought to have given up on his medication and had altogether stopped taking his pills and capsules required for his chemotherapy.

“He dropped the medicines a month after starting them because he seemed to find it harder to live with them. He even got out of his liquid chemo last February due to discomforts. He literally left all chances of medical healing and prayed to live long enough to see the tercentenary celebrations, nothing more,” Tria added.

Fr. Andrew Recepcion, executive secretary for the central committee of the tercentenary celebrations, and also among those who heard the happy announcement, confirmed that the archbishop did not ask to be healed and attributed this miracle to the collective prayers of all the people who surrounded him.

“He believed that it was a gift from “Ina” (the name given by Bicolanos to the Lady of Penafrancia). Something that he never expected to happen,” says Recepcion.

On Tuesday, the clergy of Naga assembled in the Minor Seminary for a day of prayer and meditation with almost all of the high-ranking priests under the Archdiocese of Caceres, seminarians and other members of the clergy in attendance.

The Archbishop was said to be present in the assembly. He, however, did not make himself available for any more interviews and his supporters said he has been resting to prepare for the busy month ahead.

“He looks younger now,” Tria added. “I think he’s ready for another 10 years of his life.”

“He definitely is healthier. His color is back. He looks good, better than before,” Recepcion said with a smile.

The Lady of Peñafrancia or Ina has drawn pilgrims from all over the world due to word of her miracles.

Father Miguel Robles de Covarrubias of Ciudad de Nueva Caceres (the name of the old Naga City) was a young seminarian when he was healed of an illness, which was attributed to his devotion to the Bicol patroness.

His healing inspired him to start the Peñafrancia festivities 300 years ago.

Bicol is celebrating the 300th year of the Our Lady of Penafrancia as its patron saint.

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