The province of Pangasinan is home to one of the most precious and honored Marian image in the country: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag. The ivory image was brought to the Philippines by an Augustinian, P. Juan de San Jacinto via the Manila Galleon route, originating from Spain, in the early 1600s.
The title of the Virgin comes from an event in 1610, when a Pangasinense, on his way home, heard a woman’s voice, calling out to him ("taoag” means to call, in the native language). He tracked down the voice to a Lady with a rosary and a child, atop a cloud hovering above a tree. He quickly recognized this beautiful apparition as that of our Blessed Virgin Mary with the Christ Child.
On the spot where our Lady appeared, a chapel was built. Here, devotion grew and wondrous miracles were reported. One of the earliest account was the saving of the church and the people from a fire set by pagan pillagers who swooped down on the town. This miracle was repeated during World War II when the shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag remained unscathed even after bombs were dropped onto the roof of the church by Japanese planes.
The Marian image was canonically crowned on 21 April 1926 by the Papal Nuncio, the official emissary of His Holiness Pope Pius XI.
Both the images of Our Lady and the Christ Child have ivory heads and hands which are now lined with age. The Virgin herself owns gem-encrusted crowns donated by mostly Filipino devotees living here and abroad. It is enshrined on the altar behind bullet-proof glass. Pilgrims and devotees can venerate the Virgin by ascending a second-floor landing that allows them to touch the her holy vestments from the back.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag continues to be one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations. It also houses a shrine museum and a souvenir religious shop. Regular dawn processions are held every first Saturday of the month. Her feast day is on the 3rd Wednesday after Easter while its universal feast day (as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary) is observed on the first Sunday of October.