THOUSANDS of devotees of La Naval de Manila flocked to Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City for the annual grand procession last Oct. 14, the culmination of a nine-day novena.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said in his homily that the procession is a day commemorating the Philippines’ victory in the sea battles of La Naval 366 years ago. This year’s feast had the theme “Maria: Ina ng Pananampalataya” in keeping with the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

“Sa araw na ito ay ipinagdiriwang natin ang tagumpay ng panalangin, pananampalataya, at pagtulong ng ating Mahal na Ina. Ito ay araw ng pagdulog sa Ina para sa pagsasabuhay ng ating pananampalataya,” he said.

In 1646, 15 well-armed Dutch ships attacked the Philippines. Filipinos and Spaniards equipped with only two old galleons that were speedily armed, challenged the Dutch and miraculously won over the invaders. The five resounding victories were attributed to the miraculous help of the Lady of the Rosary to whom the Filipino and Spanish fighters prayed to.

On Oct. 5, 1906, Pope Pius X bestowed a canonical crown to the statue. In 1954, a Marian Year, the Our Lady of the Rosary’s shrine was declared by the Philippine hierarchy as the “National Shrine of our Lady of the Rosary.”

Ongtioco reminded Catholics to keep reaching to God to show how they value the faith they have for the Blessed Mother.

“Dapat nating isama sa ating panalangin ang pagbabalik-loob ng mga tao. Ang panalanging ito ay upang ating tuklasin o suriin ang kahalagahan ng paglapit sa Panginoon,” he said. “Magagawa lamang nating ipakita ang pagpapahalagang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagpapahayag ng pananamplataya sa Diyos.”

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Fr. Rodel Aligan, OP, dean of the Faculty of Sacred Theology honored Mary for being a “successful woman.” Success comes to those who follow the will of God and intensely follow Christ, he said.

“Si Maria, sa lahat ng babae, ang ehemplo ng isang babaeng sumusunod sa Kaharian ng Diyos,” Aligan said. “Ang tagumpay ay hindi sa napakaraming ginawa sa lupa kundi sa pagsunod sa kahilingan ng Diyos na kasabay ng malaking pananampalataya.”

The image of La Naval was sculpted at the request of then acting Governor General of the Philippines Don Luis Perez Dasmariñas. An unknown Chinese artisan sculpted the image under the direction of Captain Hernando de los Rios Coronel.

Aside from the image of La Naval, the procession also included the image of Saint Joseph and 25 other saints: Santo Tomas de Aquino, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, Santo Domingo de Guzman, San Raymundo de Penafort, San Martin de Porres, San Alberto Magno, San Vicente Liem de La Paz, Santo Tomas Khuong, San Francisco de Capillas, Santa Magdalena de Nagasaki, San Juan Macias, Santa Rosa de Lima, Santa Catalina de Ricci, San Juan de Colognia, San Luis Beltran, San Pio V, San Vicente Ferrer, San Antonio de Florencia, Santa Catalina de Sena, Santa Ines de Montepulciano, Santa Margarita de Ungria, San Jacinto, San Oedro Martir, Beata Juana de Aza, and Beata Margarita de Castelo.

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