Francis Kuo, Taipei
April 8, 2011
Hundreds of local Catholics as well as Filipino overseas workers flocked to venerate Saint John Bosco’s relic, following local customs of burning firecrackers to welcome its arrival at St. John Bosco Church in Taipei yesterday.
Ten laypeople then carried the casket, which holds a life-size wax replica of the saint’s body, into the church, passing through flower baskets sent from Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou and other senior government officials.

“Don’t need to be afraid of what you see. It is a replica, not the corpse of the saint and the casket is also not a coffin,” Father Simon Lam, the provincial of the Don Bosco Society’s China province, assured the waiting faithful. The China province comprises mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The right palm of the saint is placed inside the chest of the replica, covered by the vestment, he added to ease their minds.

Father Lam observed that some Catholics in Hong Kong and Macau feel uncomfortable to see the relic, because a coffin is regarded as unlucky for some Chinese. “But it is easier for the faithful to associate what the saint has preached on the meaning of death when they see a statue lying there,” he explained.

The saint liked to preach this topic in his lifetime and thus the society decided to use a reclining replica in the world tour to celebrate their founder’s 200th birth anniversary, he said, adding that a standing statue is too common.

“Our veneration of the saint’s relics is no different from Buddhists’ veneration of the Buddha’s tooth relics and so there is no need to fear,” agreed Yao Ling-shen, a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
In the solemn welcome Mass, Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei asked Catholics, especially educators, to model themselves on the “Teacher of the Young” as the “education system in Taiwan is unfriendly” to students.

Nine veneration sessions and 10 Masses are scheduled in the Taipei church today and tomorrow on April 8-9. The SDB will then conclude the 17-day relic tour on Chinese soil, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.