POSTSCRIPT / March 31, 2020 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pray to St. Corona to ward off COVID

WE’RE not sure if President Duterte, who marked his 75th birthday last Saturday, believes in saints, but still we invite him to pray to St. Corona, a relatively obscure second century martyr of the Church whose remains are in Northern Italy.

The saint is now getting some attention as the world scrambles to fend off the onslaught of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has afflicted more than 685,000 people around the globe, killing at least 32,000 of them, 71 in the Philippines.

Martyred for her faith at age 16, St. Corona is the patroness to pray to in times of plagues and pandemics, according to ancient hagiography and the Roman Martyrology. This is a timely reminder for those who believe in the miraculous intercession of the saints.

In an item in, writer Martina Moyski reported that the coronavirus pandemic has kicked up a resurgence of devotion to St. Corona. Excerpts from her article:

“A spate of tweets about St. Corona have taken the international social media world by storm. For many Catholic and non-Catholic twitterati, the saint and martyr is being touted as a patroness who has been waiting for 1,860 years to help the world through this current crisis.

“Indeed, many tweets include this prayer: ‘St. Corona, patroness of plague and pandemics, pray for us!’ For traditional Catholics, St. Corona has been honored in various places for centuries for her adherence to the Faith in the face of suffering and martyrdom.

“Most accounts agree she died in 170 A.D. in Syria during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and that she was put to death by order of a Roman judge named Sebastian who hated Christians.

“Sebastian ordered Corona, who had proclaimed her allegiance to Christ, to be tied to the tops of two palm trees that had been bent to the ground. At his signal, the ropes holding the trees were cut, forcing them to spring back up — ripping apart her body.

“Before her excruciating death, she provided solace and courage to another of Sebastian’s tortured victims, St. Victor, a Roman soldier who had been whipped, had his eyes gouged out and was then beheaded for his Christian faith. The two saints are often pictured together.

“The linking of St. Corona’s name with the coronavirus — the word corona is Latin for crown — is not the only coincidence. A basilica preserving her relics since the ninth century happens to be located in the middle of the pandemic in the city of Anzu, in northern Italy.

“The basilica is named after both of them — Basilica Santuario dei Santi Vittore e Corona. St. Corona and her relics are receiving renewed interest among the faithful there and in the internet.

“’She’s being called on in Northern Italy where her remains are,’ said Fr. Rich Pagano, a host on The Catholic Talk Show. In Germany, where more than 44,000 cases of coronavirus infections have been reported as of March 26, St. Corona is also making an appearance.

“Germany’s historic Aachen Cathedral, built by Emperor Charlemagne in the ninth century, has pulled the relics of the saint from its treasure chamber and is polishing up the reliquary to go on display once the coronavirus pandemic has ended. St. Corona’s relic, were brought to Aachen by King Otto III in 997 and kept in a tomb until 1911–12 when they were placed in the shrine.”

 Who/what will save us from the plague?

FILIPINOS need the light touch of a miracle worker, not the brute force of a military-police machine, to lift and lead them through the night of the CORVID-19 pandemic.

Only the deft hand of an inspired and inspiring leader can save the 100 million-plus population from the unseen enemy stalking them in the streets, the fields, work places, and even in the supposed safety of their homes.

What started as a public health concern, one of those annoying things from China, was tossed to the military-police apparatus to handle, but it refused to be tamed and even spawned bigger socio-economic problems.

The COVID-19 situation has grown a peace and order dimension to it, prompting people to ask if it was right that the military/police generals (”my warriors”) were placed on top of what was/is basically a public health emergency?

The people are being told to pipe down, listen and “just obey.” The President, with the military-police all-star cast behind him, knows what he is doing or saying (like his assuring all and sundry that China is there ready to help us).

So what do we do now with the millions of locked-down citizens (actually locked-up as in house arrest?) who cannot venture out of their abode, have lost their means of livelihood and now must scrimp on whatever food and essentials they still have?

Will the political theorem that “keeping people poor and ignorant makes them more manageable” work in this situation?

If no positive and dramatic economic relief comes in a few months, or weeks?, starvation and desperation could rear their ugly heads. This could whip up crime and violence – which probably explains the key role given to the military and the police.

However, if the situation is adroitly managed by the men in uniform, Filipinos could get used over time to lockdowns and other draconian restrictions to their normal lifestyle.

The conditioning of the public to harsh COVID-related measures could be a soft preparation in case somebody with dictatorial tendencies decides to stay in power longer than what law and decency allow.

Has the cabal found in COVID a legal justification for a military-backed autocratic regime against which the Constitution, a “never-again” charter written in reaction to Marcosian martial law, has no provision?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 31, 2020)

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