OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY OF MANAOAG
As we celebrate the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, it is also a major fiesta for the Church, especially in the Philippines and, particularly, in my Mom’s home province of Pangasinan on the island of Luzon.
For, today, and every Wednesday of the third week of Easter, thousands of people gather in the town of Manaoag to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag (her other feast day is October 7th).
God willing, next February, I will travel to the land of my ancestors (for the first time!) and make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag to venerate this image of our Blessed Mother. As a side note: the shrine has been officially proclaimed by the Vatican to be an affiliate of the Major Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome; thus, the indulgences and spiritual benefits of making a pilgrimage to the shrine would be the same as if you had visited St. Mary Major.
The shrine grew from a small chapel that was built after Our Lady appeared to a simple farmer who was walking home after a tiring day in the fields. He first saw a bright light and heard a voice call out to him. After looking where the light and voice were coming from, he soon beheld an apparition of a beautiful woman standing on a cloud on a tree. The woman who was fair as the moon and bright as the sun held a rosary in one hand and a Baby in the other. She spoke to the kneeling farmer saying, “Son, I want a church built here in my honor. My children shall receive many favors in this place.”
Pilgrims soon flooded the once rural village to pray in the small chapel built near the tree where the Lady had appeared. To accommodate the growing crowds, the tiny structure was rebuilt over the years to the present shrine that we see today, and the town where all this took place changed its name from Santa Monica to Manaoag, in reference to the place where the Virgin calls, for “Manaoag” is derived from “toag” (“tawag”) or “to call.”
As she once called out to the simple Filipino farmer, Apo Baket (Venerable Lady) calls to us as well. She, our Mother, calls out to her children who have separated themselves from her Son, calling out their names as she repeatedly called out the Name of Jesus who was lost to her and Joseph for 3 days. To her little ones clinging to her mantle, Mary calls out to them and speaks the words she said to the servers at the Wedding at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).
The image above of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag which stands above the shrine’s altar is made out of ivory and was brought to the Philippines by Fr. Juan de San Jacinto, O.P. from Spain (via Acapulco) over 300 years ago. It was canonically crowed in 1926 in recognition to the devotion of many Filipinos and of the spiritual and temporal benefits gained through Our Lady’s intercession.
[Photo: by Glenn Inocencio]