A PROCESSION of the image of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila around Intramuros happened for the first time in 79 years, opening Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s quadricentennial celebration on a solemn note.

Letran Rector and President Fr. Clarence Marquez, O.P. attributed the institution’s 400 years of existence to God through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.

“Colegio de San Juan de Letran has always been a small school [and] we began as an orphanage, so we are about helping the orphans, poor people, and poor students in terms of having a bright future,” he said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

Marquez said Letran’s challenge would be to produce better graduates that would serve the world by “bearing witness to our Catholic faith.”

“Philippine Christianity is undergoing a challenge of identity. [W]e have to look at that and we have to be firm in that. Catholics in the Philippines will not just be Christians and Catholics by name but by deed. That’s the challenge of Christianity in the Philippines,” said Marquez.

The last grand La Naval procession in Intramuros took place before the outbreak of World War II in 1941.

The image was made in 1593 by a Chinese artisan commissioned by  Spanish Governor-General Luis Perez Dasmariñas.

According to pious history, when the artisan was carving the image in a careless fashion, a voice of a lady was heard saying: “Not too hard.” The voice was believed to be from the Blessed Virgin. The Chinese pagan converted to the Catholic faith.

The image is considered the oldest ivory carving in the Philippines.


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