destination,  festivities,  Miracles

Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

LocationAntipolo, Rizal, Philippines
Date25 March 1626
(393 years and 139 days)
Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
TypeWooden statue
Holy See approvalReverend Michael J. O’Doherty
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila
ShrineAntipolo Cathedral
PatronageTravellers and sailors
AttributesDark complexion, enlarged iris, unbound hair

Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje), also known as the Virgin of Antipolo and the Our Lady of Antipolo (Filipino: Birhen ng Antipolo), is a 17th-century Roman Catholic wooden image of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in the Philippines. The image, a Black Madonna that represents the Immaculate Conception, is enshrined in Antipolo Cathedral in the Sierra Madre mountains east of Metro Manila.[1]

The image was brought to the country by Governor-General Juan Niño de Tabora from Mexico via the galleon El Almirante in 1626. His safe voyage across the Pacific Ocean was attributed to the image, which was given the title of “Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage”. It was substantiated later by six other successful voyages of the Manila-Acapulco Galleons with the image aboard as its patroness.[1][2]

The statue is one of the most celebrated images of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines, gaining devotees since the mid-19th century, having been mentioned by José Rizal in his writings.[3] From May to July each year, the image attracts millions of pilgrims from all over the country and abroad. Pope Pius XI authorized her canonical coronation on 13 June 1925, which occurred on 28 November 1926.

History

An old image, brought from Mexico in 1626 by Don Juan Niño de Tabora, destined to the government and captaincy general of the Philippine Islands, she was acclaimed as the one who protected the voyage and kept it without harm, for which reason she received the title of Peace and Good Voyage. Don Juan entrusted the image to the Jesuit priests of the church of Saint Ignatius in Intramuros.

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Don Juan having died, the image passed ownership to the Jesuits fathers who established their mission in what would later be Antipolo, where, when the church was being constructed, many times the image left her altar only to reappear on the top of a breadfruit tree (Artocarpus incisa), known in the locality as tipolo, which later gave its name to the place. The church transferred to the site of the said tree, and its trunk was made into the first pedestal whereupon the Virgin stood for many years afterwards.Don Juan having died, the image passed ownership to the Jesuits fathers who established their mission in what would later be Antipolo, where, when the church was being constructed, many times the image left her altar only to reappear on the top of a breadfruit tree (Artocarpus incisa), known in the locality as tipolo, which later gave its name to the place. The church transferred to the site of the said tree, and its trunk was made into the first pedestal whereupon the Virgin stood for many years afterwards.

As patroness of the Manila galleon trade, she crossed the Pacific six times in a voyage from Manila to Acapulo, and back, between 1648 and 1748. Her triumphant return to Antipolo after her last voyage was celebrated with a biduum of great feasting and rejoicing, securing the ascent of the Royal Chapel of Manila (which then included a large number of trebles with its precentors and succentors, choirmaster and chaplain) to her hallowed precincts to sing the Masses and the Offices in her honour.

The Virgin came down once again to Manila in 1904 for the silver anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. She returned to Manila in 1926 for her episcopal coronation from the hands of Msgr. Michael O’Doherty, then archbishop of Manila. In 1944, during the War, she took refuge in Quiapo, after having been hidden under the convent floor and then in the hills between Antipolo and Angono. And more recently, she graced with her presence the celebrations of the Marian Year of 1954.

Owing to these voyages, both in epochs past and in our times, she is now known as the most travelled of Our Lady in the Philippines. The old church of Antipolo was first burnt in the Chinese uprising of 1639, and afterwards was damaged in the earthquakes of 1645, 1824 and 1863, and finally destroyed by Allied bombing during the War. The Virgin is now kept the present church of Antipolo, see of the diocese of Antipolo, and she presides from her most ample niche placed upon the topmost story of the principal altarpiece, casting her tender and maternal gaze upon all devotees and faithful that surround her.

Claims of miracles

In 1639 the Chinese rose in revolt, burning the town and the church. Fearing for the statue’s safety, Governor Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera ordered its transfer to Cavite, where it was temporarily enshrined. Governor Hurtado later ordered the statue removed from its Cavite shrine in 1648, and it was shipped back to Mexico aboard the galleon San Luis. At the time, the statue of a saint onboard served as a ship’s patron saint or protector of the Acapulco trade.

The statue crossed the Pacific six times aboard the following Manila-Acapulco galleons:

  • San Luis — (1648–1649)
  • Encarnación — (1650)
  • San Diego — (1651–1653)
  • San Francisco Javier — (1659–1662)
  • Nuestra Señora del Pilar — (1663)
  • San José — (1746–1748)

A royal decree by Queen Isabella II on 19 May 1864 ordered that the curias of San Nicolas de Tolentino be turned over to the Jesuits in exchange for the curias of Antipolo, Taytay and Morong, which were given to the Augustinian Recollects. The latter order thus came into possession of the image.

A cholera outbreak was spreading the Philippine Islands and several people died during the outbreak and Antipolo was not spared. The people were alarmed with the situation that they decided to seek the help of the Virgin of Antipolo to eradicate the plague. The people went in procession and held a mass on top of a hill. After the mass, the plague was gone and this became a practice to bring the Virgin to the hill in special times of  need.

The Hill is now called the Pinagmisahan Hills and today, on the first Tuesday of May, the image is brought to Pinagmisahan Hills to signal the beginning of the Pilgrimage season

n June 6, 1868, a young José Rizal and his mother Dona Teodora Alonzo went to the shrine in thanksgiving after the boy and his mother survived his delivery in 1861 as to fulfill the vow made by his mother to take the child to the Shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo should she and her child survive the ordeal of delivery which nearly caused his mother’s life.

World War II and coronation

In 1944, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the town and turned it into a garrison, with the shrine being used as an arsenal. To save the image, the church’s head sacristan, Procopio Ángeles, wrapped it in a thick woollen blanket and placed it in an empty petrol drum, which he then buried in a nearby kitchen.

Fighting between Imperial Japanese troops and the combined American and Filipino forces drove Ángeles and other devotees to exhume the image and move it to Kulaiki Hill on the border with Angono. From there, it was spirited away to the lowland Barangay Santolan in Pasig, and then to the town center of Pasig itself. The statue was then kept by Rosario Alejandro (née Ocampo), daughter of Pablo Ocampo, at the Ocampo-Santiago family residence on Hidalgo Street, Quiapo, Manila, before it was enshrined inside Quiapo Church for the remainder of the Second World War.[4]

On 15 October 1945, the statue was translated back to its church in Antipolo, where it remains today.

The statue was canonically crowned by the Archbishop of Manila, Rev. Michael J. O’Doherty, on 28 November 1926 in Luneta (present-day Rizal Park), Manila.

Features of the Image

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The image is made of wood carved in Mexico upon the request of Governor-General Juan Niño de Tabora for Tabora is a Marian devotee and he would like to have an image of Our Lady to accompany him in his voyage to the Philippines and to help him govern the country.The statue (a Black Madonna) is a form of the Immaculate Conception, and is enshrined at Antipolo Cathedral in the city of Antipolo in the province of Rizal.

The statue is one of the most celebrated images of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines, gaining devotees since the mid-19th century. From May to July each year, the image attracts millions of devotees from all over the country and abroad.

Cathedral shrine

The first missionaries in Antipolo were the Franciscans, who arrived in the vicinity in 1578.[3] The Jesuits then followed and administered the church from 1591 until May 1768, when the decree expelling the Jesuits from Spanish lands reached Manila.

The church was greatly damaged during the Chinese uprising of 1639, the 1645 Luzon earthquake, and the earthquakes of 1824 and 1883. Notable Filipino historians such as Pedro Chirino and Pedro Murillo Velarde (also a prominent cartographer) ministered at the church.

The Diocese of Antipolo was created on 24 January 1983 and was canonically erected on 25 June 1983 at the diocese’s new see, which bears the formal title of “Cathedral-National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage”.

Pilgrimage

Pilgrimages to the image’s shrine begin and peak in May, which in Catholicism is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. On 30 April—the eve of May Day— thousands of devotees from Metro Manila customarily perform the Alay Lakad (literally, “Walk Offering”), where pilgrims spend the night travelling on foot to the shrine, where they hear Mass at dawn.[5]

The farthest official starting point of the modern pilgrimage is Quiapo Church; the custom of visiting the shrine in May, however, was already recorded by the 19th century. On 6 June 1868, a young José Rizal and his father Don Francisco Mercado, visited the shrine in thanksgiving after the boy and his mother, Teodora Alonso, survived his delivery in 1861.[6]

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