The Lady who calls-A A +A
Saturday, September 7, 2013
SHE is Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, a town in Pangasinan. Our Lady was named after the town because, centuries ago, a farmer heard a call as he was walking on a hill. It was a sweet voice that called and looking for its source, the man saw a vision of Our Lady of the Rosary, carrying Jesus with one hand and a rosary on the other. They were perched on top of a tree. News about the sighting spread and soon people flocked to the place, which was eventually called “Manaoag,” vernacular for “to call” in 1605.
Many miracles have been attributed to this Lady, which is why devotion to her is alive and well even today. Her shrine, originally made of bamboo in 1605, was later replaced by a stone church that was damaged by an earthquake.
In 1701, it was rebuilt through a donation from a rich couple but this new structure was also destroyed by fire in 1898. But the statue of Our Lady was saved, in safe keeping somewhere else until she was brought back in 1901 and the church fully rebuilt by 1912.
She was canonically crowned on April 21,1926, her feast day, by Archbishop William Piani, Apostolic Delegate to the country.
Devotion to Our Lady of Manaoag has spread throughout the Philippines. One of those propagating the devotion happens to be a Cebuana, Edna Toral. Decades ago, when she was seriously ill, she would travel to Manaoag to pray for healing and, when in Cebu, she would distribute pamphlets of the novena to Our Lady of Manaoag. This she did of her own volition but something made her report to Manaoag about her apostolic work. In 1994, she was called to Manaoag and was formally named coordinator for the propagation of Our Lady of Manaoag in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Since then, she says she must have coordinated the enthronement of Our Lady in over 120 places, including a few in Luzon, in Cebu, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, including two areas in Cotabato. She also spearheaded the building of the Rosary Center of Our Lady of Manaoag in the Benedictine monastery grounds in Corte, Carmen, Cebu, with life-size paintings of the 20 mysteries of the rosary, which happens to celebrate its 10th anniversary today.
Edna says the Lady keeps calling, and has now started to go international. In 2011, she coordinated the enthronement of Our Lady in the Regina Mundi parish in Surabaya, Indonesia; on Aug. 17, 2012 Our Lady of Manaoag was enthroned in the St. Anthony and St. Victor cathedral in Tamuning, Guam; and on May 15 this year, she was enthroned in the St. Joseph parish in Dahod Gujarat, India. Toral is going back to Indonesia for another enthronement on Sept. 27 in Pontianak, Kalimantan, Barat. In Cebu, recent enthronements were those for Our Lady of the Rosary Sanctuary in Cataline Hill, Guba, and the second enthronement of Our Lady in Tabor Hill (the first has been partly hidden by ongoing construction).
And yesterday, Our Lady of Manaoag was enthroned in the Santo Niño parish in Medellin.
Toral says she is not allowed to go around to offer the enthronement of Our Lady in parishes, chapels or wherever. Her duty is to look at the place of those who ask for Our Lady of Manaoag to be enthroned. Whenever possible, she gives the place a look-see to find out also if the devotion to Our Lady is something that the people of the place really want and will continue. All enthronements have to be done by the Dominican priests of the Manaoag shrine in Pangasinan and if they are unavailable, by another priest who previously witnessed such an enthronement. Toral observes that Our Lady is loved even by non-Christians—in India, Indonesia and Cotabato.
No wonder the Lady keeps calling—perhaps to be known better in places where she is already revered?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 08, 2013.