Sunday, June 6, 2010

13. RETRO-SANTO: Nstra. Sñra. Del Rosario de La Naval

Nuestra Senora del Santissimo Rosario de la Naval de Manila (Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary) or simply called Virgen de la Naval is certainly one of the most historied Marian image venerated in the country today. The image dates back to the year 1593, and was carved by a Chinese sculptor commissioned by Gov. Luis Perez de Dasmariñas after his Moluccan expedition.

The making of the ivory image was attended with many miraculous happenings. While it was being carved by the Chinese non-Catholic artist, he supposedly heard a mild protest in Spanish: “no me des tan fuerte!” (don’t chisel me too hard). Subsequently, the Chinese converted to the Catholic faith. The image was then donated to the Sto. Domingo Church in Manila.

The Del Rosario image stands all of 56 inches, with head and hands in ivory. The face bears a distinct and delicate Oriental features. She is vested as a royal lady of the court of the Felipes, holding the Niño Jesus in her left hand and her scepter of authority in her right had.

Over a period of more than 4 centuries, the Virgen del Rosario has been lavished with precious jewelries, and the most famoust one rests in brilliance on her forehead. A “carbuncle”, old folks call it, which, legends say, was once carried by a serpent in its mouth. He would only remove his hold on the jewel when it would feed on milk, and it was in this manner that he was trapped and killed—while the great jewel was retrieved, to be use as an adornment on the Lady whose feet had once crushed the snake’s head.

But the most incredible story about this well-loved Marian image is woven around a series of 5 naval battles, two ships with 200 Filipino and Spanish sailors, one faith and one rosary. From March to October 1646, La Encarnacion and La Rosario, together with their crew, waged epic battles against the Dutch who always took flight and retreated—until their ultimate defeat. The victories were attributed to Our Lady whose image was ensconced in special niches of the ships, and the recitation of the Rosary before every skirmish.

When “galleons of miracles” returned to the city amidst tumultuous welcome, the crew walked barefooted to Santo Domingo barefooted, to pay homage to the Virgin who heard their prayers.

The country’s celebrated Virgin was canonically-crowned on 5 October 1907 under Pope Pius X, the first Marian image to be accorded the honor in the Philippines and in Asia. The centennial of its coronation, held in 2007, was marked with a grand re-enactment of Her crowning and a publication of the book, "The Saga of La Naval".

The Virgen de La Naval shrine is at the Sto. Domingo Church at Quezon Boulevard Ext., Quezon City. She is recognized as the patron of the capital city as well as the city of Angeles in Pampanga which has a church dedicated to her. Her feast is on October 7 (celebrated on the Sunday nearest the 7th) .

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