Detained Senator Leila de Lima said on Sunday she had received a “beautiful rosary” from Pope Francis three months after writing to the Pontiff for prayers for herself and the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.
In a statement, De Lima said she had received the rosary, enclosed with a letter from the Pope, on Nov. 22 when the Philippine National Police (PNP) chaplain personally handed her the gift.
“I cannot thank Pope Francis enough for his thoughtfulness. I’m deeply, deeply touched by the Pope’s gesture. This gift will constantly remind me that, despite the political persecution I am experiencing right now at the hands of a vengeful President. I should keep the faith and fight tirelessly for the welfare of the Filipino people,” De Lima was quoted as saying during the Sunday Mass at the PNP Custodial Center attended by family members, friends and supporters.
“Last Nov. 22, the PNP Chaplain personally handed to me a beautiful rosary from Pope Francis as well as the latter’s message coursed through the Papal Nuncio,” she said.
“According to the Chaplain, Pope Francis was able to read my letter and assured that he is praying for me,” she added.
In her letter to Pope Francis, she asked the Pontiff to offer a prayer for her and the Filipinos who are suffering from abuses and injustices since Duterte launched his government’s all-out war on drugs.
“Papa Francesco, if I may be granted one wish, I hope that you will say a prayer for me and the Filipino people. Please bless me so I can have the strength to continue the fight against the injustice that is happening not only to me, but to thousands of Filipinos who are victims of extrajudicial killing,” she wrote.
The senator also asked for the Pope’s blessing to give her strength in relentlessly standing up against the state-led abuses.
“I do not know when I will regain my freedom. Only faith sustains me through this nightmare. Please include me and the Philippines in your prayers,” she added.
Since her arrest and detention, De Lima said she has become more prayerful with the guidance of her spiritual advisers. She reads the Bible daily and attends Sunday masses with family and friends within the detention facility.
The third Pontiff to grace the Philippines, Pope Francis visited the country in January 2015 as part of his effort to see the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, which devastated the country in 2013. – INQUIRER.NET
text JHOANNA BALLARAN