With flowers, songs in Tagalog and prayers for peace, devotees honored Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag on October 1, 2023, at the Filipino chaplaincy with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
“We believe that the Blessed Mother is the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the mother of the Word incarnate and the mother of the whole world,” one of the devotees commented.
“I have been a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary since I was a little child. And I believe that whenever Mama Mary whispers something into the ear of the Holy Infant Jesus, He listens to her,” another devotee said.
The feast day of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is consistently celebrated by Filipino migrants in Austria, particularly the natives of Manaoag, Pangasinan, a town more than 100 miles north of Manila.
Our Lady of Manaoag’s original image is enshrined at the Heart of Jesus Parish, Töllergasse, 1210 Vienna.
The feast day began with the prayer of the Holy Rosary conducted on the grounds of the Filipino Catholic chaplaincy in Vienna’s 10th District. A procession of the “Apo Baket” image followed, ending in the church. It was a special celebration as flower offerings were made in the liturgy. The APA Choir rendered the liturgical songs with Marian songs.
Last Sunday’s Mass was celebrated by the priests under the Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy: Fr. Ely Dalanon, Fr. Victor Tamayo and Fr. Alvin Santillan. A visiting priest from the Philippines, Fr. Jovic Lobrigo, delivered the sermon.
The celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Manaoag at the Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy may be considered the culminating activity for the feast day of Our Lady of Manaoag in Vienna. The Association of Pangasinenses in Austria organized the event, led by its President, Charito Mina and the couple Efren and Lumen Galvez Alican, leaders of the Lady of Manaoag Devotional Group.
Folk tradition says that many centuries ago, the Virgin Mary appeared in front of a middle-aged farmer in the Pangasinan province of the Philippines, instructing him to build a church on a hill. The apparition and many miraculous signs started a devotion to the Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, otherwise known as Nuestra Señora de Manaoag.
Locals and tribes from the mountains resisted converting to Catholicism in the 17th century, prompting Dominican friars to spread conversion by introducing Our Lady of Manaoag as a “powerful protectress” of the sick, helpless, and needy. Since then, the Virgin Mary has been an instrument in fostering Filipino Catholic piety in that region.
The ivory image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag – which depicts the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus in her left arm and a Rosary in her right hand – is kept in the high altar of a church on a hilltop in Manaoag and is said to have miraculous powers. The image was canonically crowned in 1926, meaning that the Vatican officially proclaimed that Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag had granted favours and blessings.
Manaoag now receives thousands of pilgrims converging to attend Mass, pray the Rosary and offer flowers. The image is most visited in May and October, when Mary is celebrated as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Pope Francis gave Our Lady of Manaoag Church, under the care of the Philippine Dominican Province, the title of “minor basilica” in February 2015.
- Hector Pascua, pictures: Mandy Salonga/Lolit Vendivil Kaszuba
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