It has been a long withstanding tradition of Filipino Catholics to witness priests washing the feet of laypersons during Holy Week. The gesture is traditionally done on Maundy Thursday, to commemorate Christ’s washing of the feet of the Apostles on the night of the Last Supper.
This year, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle washed the feet of migrants and refugees at the Manila Cathedral on Maundy Thursday.
The following are the people whose feet Cardinal Tagle washed:
- The parents of slain OFW Joanna Demafelis, whose body was discovered in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait,
- Fr. Chito Suganob, the priest who spent over a hundred days as a captive of the Maute-ISIS group during the Marawi siege,
- The Pelayo family, who were relocated from Manila to Laguna, to represent thousands of families in poor communities who “face the risk of losing their only known home,”
- Lumad leaders and environmental defenders Isidro Indao and Kaylo Bontolan, who were displaced due to militarization and destruction of forests by logging and mining,
- Giovanni and Yolicres Badidles from the Philippine Navy, who spend their lives separated from each other during assignments, to “willingly offer their lives to defend our nation,”
- A foreign, Catholic couple who sought refuge in the Philippines due to “religious persecution” in their homeland.
This year, the CBCP said the Manila Cathedral seeks to highlight the call of Pope Francis for dioceses around the world to support migrants and refugees.
“Kilalanin [natin] sila. Hawakan [natin ang kanilang] mga kamay. Pakinggan ang kanilang mga kuwento, at baka matuklasan nating hindi sila iba sa atin. Nais po nating ipaalam sa buong mundo at sa ating mga sarili na sa dami ng lumilisan, kasama nila si Hesus at sana kasama rin nila tayo,” Tagle said.
Last year, Cardinal Tagle washed the feet of drug surrenderee and policemen as a “gesture of peace” amid thousands of deaths linked to the government’s war on drugs.
“This is a new mission for the Philippine Church—opening our arms to our Christian brethren who suffer persecution in their country,” the archbishop of Manila was quoted saying.
Words by Roy Lagarde, CBCP News. Featured image by Maria Tan.