THOMASIANS now have their very own “praying area,” with the blessing of the new rosary garden last Dec. 7 which coincided with the visit of the centuries-old image of Our Lady of the Rosary of “La Naval.”

“Noon kasi, dito, parang park lang. Students do what they like, parang naging lovers’ lane. Ngayon, when they come here, they’ll be inclined to pray,” said Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of UST, in an interview.

The newly built structure on the former Tinoko Park at the right side of the Main Building is now open to the Thomasian community.

In the Rosarium, the luminous mysteries are placed after the glorious mysteries because of historical and aesthetic reasons, said Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P., director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

“The luminous mysteries were recently formulated and thus are only recited every Thursday, so we maintained the original series: joyful, sorrowful, glorious, [followed by the] luminous mysteries,” Abaño said. “Second, it is more visually aesthetic to have the glorious symbols placed at the center.”

A day before the blessing of the “Rosarium,” a motorcade brought “La Naval de Manila” from Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City to UST, its home from 1942 to 1954. A procession was held around the campus to kick off the “Quadricentennial Visit.” Hundreds of students and faculty members prayed the rosary and attended Mass at the Santisimo Rosario Parish Church. A vigil followed at 7 p.m.

The image was returned to Sto. Domingo Church after the blessing of the rosary garden last Dec. 7, the eve of the Feast of Immaculate Conception.

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In his homily, De la Rosa said UST is not only an academic institution, but also a “praying community” sustained by strong faith in God.

“Too bad, in accreditation of schools or in surveys of excellent schools, faith is not in the criteria,” De la Rosa said.

He said the University lasted for 400 years because of the Thomasian community’s “continuing devotion to Mary and Mary’s continuing intercession for us (Thomasians).”

“No institution can last or even progress without the virtue of faith,” said De la Rosa.

The Sampaloc campus of the University was home to La Naval from 1942 to 1954, following the destruction of the old Sto. Domingo Church in Intramuros during World War II. It was transferred to its permanent home on Oct. 10, 1954 with the construction of the new Sto. Domingo in Quezon City.

The last time the miraculous image visited UST was nearly two decades ago, when La Naval de Manila was brought to the campus from Quezon City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the transfer of the image to UST from the old Sto. Domingo in Intramuros.

“Generations of Thomasians have prayed before this miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval,” Abaño said.

The feast of Our Lady of La Naval is celebrated every second Sunday of October in commemoration of the miraculous victory of Spanish Philippines in naval battles against Dutch invaders.

In 1646, well-armed Dutch ships reached the Philippine islands to lead an invasion. The Philippines launched only two galleons to fight the Dutch forces, and was clearly at a disadvantage. Spaniards and Filipinos turned to Our Lady of the Rosary for help, and by miracle, they won five times in what was later called the Battle of La Naval.

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The image of La Naval was sculpted by a Chinese artisan upon the request of then acting Governor General Don Luis Perez Dasmariñas. The head, hands, and the Holy Child of the 56-inch tall image are all made of ivory. Daphne J. Magturo

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