08/13/2004, 00.00
POPE - LOURDES - CHINA
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Catholics in Henan province ask for Lourdes water

A Catholic physician applied it on patients during the SARS emergency and many were healed.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – For Chinese Catholics Holy Water from Lourdes is something really sought after and highly praised. As the Pope journeys to Lourdes many Chinese Catholics speak of their special tie to the shrine and the water of Lourdes. In fact, for the sick the Holy Water from the Massabielle grotto is the most precious gift, more than flowers, sweets, or fruit baskets.

During the months of the SARS epidemic, the Holy Water was much sought after; patients wanted it as a source of life and healing. A physician talked to AsiaNews about his extraordinary experience.

At the height of the crisis, he was selected as a front line emergency worker. Before leaving for his mission, his mother gave him a small bottle of Lourdes Holy Water. She told him: "When your father and sister were sick, they were sustained and saved by this water. Take it with you. Our Lady of Lourdes will be by your side and will always help you." In two months of work, the physician saved many patients.

Several Catholic newspapers in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan reported the doctor's experiences. And so one day, he received a letter from someone in a village in Henan province. "Dearest brother in Our Lord Jesus Christ," the letter said, "I read about your experience in Xinde ("Faith", a Catholic paper in Hebei). I was moved. Can I ask you for a great favour?  The Catholic community in our village is small. We are but a few people. But we have a big dream. We want some Holy Water from Lourdes. We read in the paper that you and your mother had some. Could you send us a bit? We thank you and may the Lord bless you, always."

The doctor tried every which way to get some Lourdes water bottles to the Henan community. Unfortunately, the Chinese postal system does not allow the shipping of items containing liquids.

Undaunted, the doctor and his mother are still trying other ways to satisfy this request. Never the less, they did send some icons and small medals with the effigy of Our Lady of Lourdes to Henan Catholics. They were promptly thanked for their trouble.

 "We rejoiced upon receiving the icons and small medals. We also threw a party when we heard you would send us some Lourdes water".

AsiaNews asked the physician what the Pope's journey to Lourdes meant to him.

"I am certain," he said, "that when the Pope blesses the crowd with the Holy Water, we, too, shall be blessed by it."

"We call on Catholics around the world: Can you bring us some of the Holy Water from Lourdes? It you can, you will be helping Chinese Catholics who wish for it."

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