Saturday, February 4, 2012

95. RETRO-SANTO: Ntra. Snra. de la Caridad, Bantay, Ilocos Sur

AY, APO! The image of Our Lady of Charity of Bantay, Ilocos Sur, the oldest Marian image of Ilocandia. Ca. 1954, taken at the Marian Congress Procession.

The oldest Marian image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the whole of Ilocandia, “Apo Caridad de Bantay” or Our Lady of Charity is of ivory. It was carved distinctively with a long, straight neck and large eyes. Of the “de vistir” type, it is dressed aith an apron called ‘delantar’ and with a ‘corea’ (cord) cinched at the waist.

First installed by Fray Montoya at the old Bantay Church, Apo Caridad has been the subject of deep veneration for centuries with many miracles attributed to her—foremost of which was the attempted burning of the town during the Malong Revolt of 1661. Apo Caridad was also held as responsible for saving the lives of Bishop Bernardo Ustariz and companion priests during the Diego Silang revolt of 1762-63. It also survived the bombings of the last world war.

It is said that the image is also imbued with the ability to walk--amorseco burs are regularly found on the hem of her vestments attested to by her caretaker Mrs. Nieves Pabo. This has led people to see her as a patroness and guardian of the fields. Apo Caridad was canonically crowned on 12 January 1956 by then Apostolic Nuncio, Egidio Vagnozzi.

The ivory head and hands of the image, however, were stolen on 4 November 1968, and to this day, they have not been recovered. The Archdiocesan Museum donated an unfinished head from which the image was reconstructed in the manner of the original.

There is another Mary figure bearing the appellation of “Apo Caridad”, which can be found in Agoo, La Union, and it is often inferred that the La Union devotion stemmed from that of the Bantay Virgin. Every year, the Nueva Segovia Pastoral Council holds an archdiocesan assembly on the date of Apo Caridad’s canonical coronation, celebrated on the Sunday closest to 12 January.


  1. The Marian images in Ilocos are not as well known as other counterparts in the rest of the country notably La Naval, NS de Buen Viaje, just to name a few. The other Miraculous images of the Blessed Virgin MAry that are venerated in Ilocos Region are the NS del Rosario de Badoc in Ilocos Norte and the NS de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. Probably the more popular image of the BVM is the NS de Piat in Cagayan province. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks Gaby. I think I have an old photo of the Piat Virgin somewhere. I'll try to feature it here.

  3. Hello mr Alex could you research on our town's patron Nuestra Señora de asuncion of Santa Maria Ilocos sur. Thank you and God bless