THE 10-YEAR old museum of Our Lady of the Rosary in Manaoag was designed in an old-fashioned way—long glass cabinets containing embroided veils and capes, perfume bottles displayed in glass cabinets, religious images, vessels, and liturgical vestments placed in shelves of a similar passé style.

Like any other edifice marred by old age, structures housing the Blessed Virgin Mary also needed a ‘facelift’.

With today’s advanced technological innovations, a curator cannot stay behind with the sentimental interior design of his museum. Maintaining a haven of artworks and artifacts requires constant perusal of artistic trends and designs to attract enthusiasts.

The crown and royal attire of Our Lady of Manaoag featured in the renovated museum. Photos courtesy of Manaoagshrine.orgThis was the realization of Fr. Stephen Redillas, O.P., prior of the convent of Our Lady of the Rosary in Manaoag. The renovation of the Lady’s museum was done as tribute to the celebration of the Lady’s coronation last September 24 to October 3.

“I think it is about time that we offer Our Lady a better museum,” Redillas said in an article posted at manaoagshrine.org, the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Manaoag.

Allan Aguñas, image custodian of the Our Lady of Manaoag, formerly known as Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario de Manaoag, recalled that the museum was first built on May 2000. From the old-fashioned look it had, the museum was transformed into a storyteller of artistic haven.

Museum attractions

The first part of the newly renovated museum shows a timeline of the role played by the Dominicans in the propagation of the Manaoag devotion.

Since 1605, the image of the Virgin Mary in Manaoag has been under the care of Dominican friars, until it found its home in the church built in 1720. In September 1925, the Papal decree allowing the Lady’s coronation was brought to Manaoag. In April 21 of the next year, the image was canonically crowned as Our Lady of Manaoag.

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Displayed is an old wooden statue of St. Dominic that leads to a panel narrating the spread of Dominican influence in Asia. Old liturgical materials bearing the Dominican seal can also be found in the first part of the museum.

It is followed by a panel titled “The Church on a Hill,” showing a miniature of the previous and present locations of the museum. The exhibit is followed by the three-foot grand statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.

The renovated museum also shows various forms of devotions expressed to Our Lady of Manaoag. Devotees’ letters, worship items like novenas and rosaries, as well as panels containing the history of the people’s devotion to her were also there.

“The renovation of the museum strengthens the faith of devotees because hearsays regarding the miracles of Our Lady of Manaoag are now supported by proofs. Now, they can discern the fact from fiction,” Aguñas said.

‘She calls’

According to tales passed on through generations, a native man who was walking home heard a call from a mysterious lady. He looked around to see where the voice came from. To his surprise, he found the apparition of a radiant Lady holding a rosary and a child.

The act of calling, referred to as “taoag” (tawag) in Tagalog, has been translated over the years into ‘manaoag’ (manawag) which means she calls.”

The feast of the Our Lady of Manaoag, Patroness of the sick, helpless, and needy, has been one of the most celebrated Marian feasts in the country.

The replica of Our Lady visited the University from October 7 to 8 at the Main building, in line with the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

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In his homily, Rev. Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., rector of the UST Central Seminary, noted that the rosary is a part of every Catholic’s life.

“The rosary is the simplest kind of prayer. It is also the most portable kind of prayer. Even if you don’t have your rosary with you, you can still pray it because you have your 10 fingers,” he said.

Timoner noted that the Dominicans played a great role in the use of rosary to express one’s faith.

“We Dominicans are clothed with the habit and the rosary. Part of what we wear is the rosary,” he said.

He said that praying is not a monologue, but is actually a dialogue which involves two people. According to him, the prayer Hail Mary is a great manifestation of this conversation.

“When we pray the rosary, we are sure and we are certain that what is happening is a conversation. It’s really God who’s talking to us when we pray its first part,” Timoner added. “If we want to be filled with grace, we just need to be sure that the Lord is with us.”

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