The relics and bones of the body of Saint Toribio Romo Gonzalez will be on display at Sacred Heart Parish in Turlock in Saturday.
The relics are bones of St. Toribio which are contained in a reliquary in the shape of a statuette of the saint.
St. Toribio was a priest and martyr for the Catholic faith during the Cristero Wars in Mexico, which was an uprising against Mexico’s former anti-Catholic government. He was murdered in 1928 by the oppressive Mexican revolutionary government for defending his religious beliefs and practices.
In May 2000 Saint Romo was canonized (declared a saint) by Pope John Paul II.
St. Toribio is known as the Patron Saint of immigrants and border crossers. According to a New York Times article from 2002, St. Toribio’s popularity amongst Catholics has grown after tales of migration miracles involving St. Toribio began spreading.
“Catholics have a 2000-year-old tradition of venerating relics. In the same way that people feel closer to their loved ones when they visit the cemetery, Catholics feel closer to a saint when in the presence of a relic. This helps cause an increase in faith, which often brings about miracles,” said Sacred Heart Priest Reverend Mark Wagner.
St. Toribio’s native town Santa Ana de Guadalupe in Jalisco, Mexico has a special tie to the Central Valley.
“There are a lot of people from Jalisco that live in Turlock and the Valley,” explained Wagner. “I know people who say they were crossing the border, but they had pictures of St. Toribio in their pockets and they didn’t get caught. For immigrants he is known as the key to getting into the United States safely.”
St. Toribio’s list of rumored miracles has been featured on “Cristina,” a popular Spanish-language talk show.
Sacred Heart expects large crowds of visitors on Saturday. The day’s events will begin at 10 a.m. with the arrival of St. Toribio’s relics in the parish gymnasium and a presentation. At 11 a.m. a Solemn Procession will be held, followed by an 11:30 a.m. Mass. Prayer will continue in the gym from 1p.m. to 6:30 p.m. At 7 p.m. there will be a Vigil Mass with relics displayed until 9 p.m. The church is located at 1200 Lyons Ave., in Turlock.
St. Toribio’s shrine in Santa Ana de Guadalupe is visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.
“We will display the relics throughout the day so people can drop in if they wish,” said Wagner.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.