Pilgrimage to Manaoag

(In lieu of upcoming Holy Week, let me share a post I’ve written four years ago. Every other year, as a Catholic, I visit the basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag at Pangasinan. This basilica is not just a repository of unique interior architectural design, priceless paintings, and colourful history of devotions and old-age traditions that traces back in our Spanish Imperial times. Some pictures posted here were taken two years ago. I’ve edited the pictures’ captions.)
Revisiting the Queen’s Throne
by: Verjory Arga

Through the centuries, large basilicas and churches were built to commence Mary’s divine role. Her divine role seemed to look upon the Earth, that she was reported to be seen visiting in a form of apparition.

(The facade of the Basilica. Photo taken 2011.)

If you are a Catholic and praying the Virgin’s litany, you might be familiar to the her title as “Queen of the Holy Rosary”. Mary among the Catholics is well-venerated for giving birth to the Savior of the World.

A five hour drive from Manila may do to reach the imposing realm of Mary in Pangasinan- The Our Lady of Manaoag National Shrine. Being brought up in Catholic teachings, my family pays homage to Manaoag Shrine.

Our Lady of Manaoag (formally: Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag, literal translation: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag) is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with a statue in Manaoag, Pangasinan said to be from the 16th century. She is the patroness of the sick, the helpless and the needy.

 

 

(From the other side of the Church the statue of Mary can be seen. Photo taken 2011)

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(The exact image of the Lady of Manaoag. Protected by a bullet proof glass, carved in ivory and richly adorned by quality gold and precious stones and gems. )

(Church interior. Photo taken 2011)

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(Images of the four apostles who witnessed and wrote the Gospel of the Lord were painted in the four upper main columns of the shrine)

The church is one of the Philippines’ most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Many people from across the Philippine archipelago come and visit the town of Manaoag, where the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is enshrined in a church dedicated to this name.

The shrine is magnificently built in stones. The walls of the church were painted to renew its skin that reflects its long time existence that witness the strong faith, belief in miracles and the Virgin’s extension of help.

(A closer look to a the Queen’s face. This statue is a replica from the Manaoag Museum. The Museum contains the priceless artifacts and jewels of the Lady of Manaoag. It also offers a large collection of perfume that was donated by families who have strong attachment to the Virgin. Photo taken 2011)

As being brought up in a Catholic surrounding, I was introduced to the Holy Virgin. Dad and Mom said that since I am a toddler they have this “panata” or promise-to-do that every year me and my two younger brothers will pay a visit or homage to the Manaoag every year till I reach the age of seven.

The promise was fulfilled. My Dad being a devotee of the Lady at least once a year pay homage to the Queen’s Shrine.

(Photo taken 2011)

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(Candles are lighted as one prays his/her wishes. It was believed that a light from the candle signifies purity and enlightenment for it defeat the darkness cause by sins.)

The statue of Our Lady of Manaoag purportedly has a long history of miraculous and pious events that are replicated in the murals within the church. These were done so that the events will never be forgotten. Devotees, from all over the globe, have varied persuasions for visiting the shrine or imploring the vital and peculiar intercession of Our Lady of Manaoag among which are pleas pertaining to good health, cure for diseases or afflictions, good voyage, posterity, the family, career, business, academic or professional examinations, surmounting challenges or trials, or any personal petition or thanksgiving.

One of the miraculous accounts regarding Our Lady of Manaoag dates back to the times when early pagans from the mountain tribes burn down newly converted Christian villages. The town of Manaoag was not spared from this. It was set on fire. The church with its thatched roof was the last refuge of the people. The leader of the pillagers climbed over its fence and shot flaming arrows to all parts of the church but all in vain. It was not set afire.

Another miraculous event was nationally reported during World War II. The Japanese army dropped several bombs on the roof of the Manaoag Shrine but inflicted no damage to the roof and the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Some of the devotees claim that drinking from the well of the Shrine can replenish the exhausted soul and body. Others say that their diseases were cured by only drinking the well’s water plus strong faith to the Virgin.

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What is true is what we cannot really tell. It’s up to us to believe it or not.

Catholics have high respect for Mary. This makes us different from other religion. As being known as the Mother of God and her divine role in salvation, some depict her a goddess. Depicting or viewing her as a goddess is totally wrong. She was created by God. And the fact that her womb is the vessel of Christ makes her divine yet she is not to be worshiped.

She is reportedly to be seen when the world is in chaos, extending help through miracles and giving us the Holy Rosary that console our soul and heart. Again, that is her divine role, yet she must not be worshiped. She must be in a high form of veneration-the hyperdulia.

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