Knights in Love With Mary

Posted on May 31, 2024 in: General News

Knights in Love With Mary

Five popular devotions exemplify the deep affection Filipino Catholics feel for the Blessed Mother

By: Roy Lagarde

Filipinos are known as pueblo amante de Maria: a people in love with Mary.

Images of Mary are found in churches, homes, schools and offices. Philippine cities and towns name her as their patroness and celebrate their devotions with grand festivals or “fiestas.” The Blessed Mother is even credited with keeping the historic People Power revolutions of 1986 and 2001 bloodless and peaceful.

Some of the Marian devotions popular among Filipino Catholics are well known throughout the world; some originated elsewhere but have been adopted in the Philippines with special fervor; and some are uniquely Filipino — such as Our Lady of Manaoag, a beloved image of Mary in the northern province of Pangasinan.

John Rosmond Claveria, a member of Pangasinan (Luzon North) Council 3711, is not unusual in praying to the Blessed Mother every morning to ask her guidance and intercession in the day ahead.

“This daily ritual sets the tone for my spiritual journey, grounding me in the loving presence of Mary as I navigate the challenges and joys of my calling,” he explained. For Knights, he said, devotion to Mary isn’t an abstract theological concept, but “informs the way we live our life.”

Learn more about Our Lady of Manaoag below, as well as four other images of Our Lady — or Mamma Mary, as Filipinos affectionately call her — widely venerated in the Philippines.

Our Lady of Manaoag

According to folk tradition, Mary appeared to a farmer in the province of Pangasinan in the early 17th century and asked for a church to be built there. The church, now known as the Manaoag Shrine, has since become a popular pilgrimage destination. The center of devotion is a centuries-old image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary enshrined in the main altar of the church, which is also a minor basilica.

The image is believed to have miraculous powers, drawing pilgrims from the Philippines and around the world to seek Mary’s intercession for healing from illness, passing an exam, finding a job and much more.

Every day, especially on weekends, thousands of people flock to Manaoag to attend Mass, pray the rosary, offer flowers and light candles at the shrine. The number of pilgrims peaks on the feast of Our Lady of Manaoag, on the third Wednesday of Easter, and the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, on Oct. 7.

Every year, Knights from Pangasinan (Luzon North) Council 3711 bring the replica image of Our Lady of Manaoag to the Dagupan Cathedral to culminate the month of October.

“This has strengthened my relationship with God and the Blessed Mother,” said Glenn Munoz Lopez, a member of the council. “I consider the Blessed Mother my moral compass in making life decisions.”

Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

The image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage was first brought to Manila in 1626 by Governor-General Juan Niño de Tabora from the Mexican town of Acapulco and went on to serve as patroness of six more successful voyages across the Pacific Ocean.

In 1632, the wooden statue was brought to a church in Antipolo, which later became the Antipolo Cathedral. The local population quickly began to venerate the Virgin, asking her intercession for safe voyages and miracles.

In June 2022, the Vatican designated Antipolo Cathedral as an international shrine — making it the first in Southeast Asia and the 11th worldwide. The new status officially took effect March 25, 2023. The shrine attracts millions of devotees, especially during its annual pilgrimage season from May to July. The feast day of Our Lady of Antipolo falls on the first Tuesday of May, and local Knights assist with the celebration.

“I have been supporting every novena and procession during her feast,” said Teodulo Sandoval of St. Therese Council 13548 in Antipolo City, the ceremonial director of Luzon South. “My Marian devotion [has] guided me to be more helpful to others.”

Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help was introduced to the Philippines by the Redemptorist missionaries, who brought the icon to the country in 1906. They established a base in Manila, where they built a church dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, marking the beginning of widespread veneration across the nation. Today, more than 50 parishes in the Philippines are dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and her image can be seen in homes, businesses and even public transportation.

The most famous shrine dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is Baclaran Church in Parañaque City, Metro Manila, where thousands of people gather every Wednesday for a novena to Our Lady. Wednesday is popularly known as Baclaran Day in Manila.

Jesus Tugay, grand knight of Mary Queen of Apostles Council 9877 in Parañaque City, credits the novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help with helping him and his family live more virtuous lives.

“My devotion has had a great impact on me. I have also learned to help my neighbors and become more involved in our parish,” Tugay said. “As I join the novena to Mama Mary every Wednesday in Baclaran and in our parish, I know that she always guides and protects me and my family.”

Our Lady of Piat

Devotion to Our Lady of Piat began when Spanish Dominican missionaries brought the image of Our Lady of Visitation of Piat from Macau to Manila in 1604. After some time in the Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros, the black Marian icon was taken to Lallo in Cagayan province; two decades later, it found a permanent home in what is now the Shrine of Our Lady of Piat, near the provincial capital of Tuguegarao in northern Luzon.

Our Lady of Piat is credited with saving the farming region from a severe drought that killed animals and devastated farmlands in 1624. Today, many miracles, including healings, continue to be attributed to her intercession. Declared a minor basilica in 1999, the Shrine of Our Lady of Piat is a center of pilgrimage in northeast Luzon; thousands visit every year, especially on her feast of July 2.

“The devotion is very strong because she has become … a refuge during calamities, especially for farmers and their families,” explained Robert Bassig, program director of Father Manuel Apostol Council 9869 in Penablanca, Cagayan.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia

This devotion originated in Europe — Peña de Francia is a mountain in Spain — but it began growing in the Philippines in 1712, when the son of a Spanish official in the region of Bicol fell seriously ill. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias and his family prayed to Our Lady of Peñafrancia and vowed to build a church in her honor if he recovered.

After his recovery, Miguel kept his vow by constructing a chapel in Nueva Caceres (now Naga City), where he later became a priest. He also requested the creation of an image similar to the one he prayed to during his illness.

Since then, devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia and stories of miracles attributed to her intercession have spread not only in the region, but throughout the country and abroad. Millions of people gather in Naga every year on the third Sunday of September to celebrate her feast day. Before the feast, her image is brought from the Minor Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral for a novena. On the last day of the novena, a boat procession along the Bicol River escorts the statue back to the basilica.

While the original image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia remains in Naga, a pilgrim image often visits other churches around the country, allowing the faithful to express their devotion without having to travel to Bicol.

For Edgran Datiles, a member of Divino Rostro Council 5183 in Naga, devotion to Our Lady has brought him closer to God, deepening his faith and influencing his actions. “By following her example, I strive to make decisions and interact with compassion, mercy and justice,” he said.