Wednesday, July 11, 2012

116. RETRO-SANTO: Ntra. Snra. de Guia

Ermita in Manila is the site of a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Way, represented by what could be the oldest Marian image in the Philippines. The image of "Birhen ng Patnubay" (or Ntra. Sra. de Guia) is a small wooden image found on the shores of Manila on 19 May 1571 by a Spanish navyman who came with Miguel Lopes de Legaspi's expedition. 

Its strong resemblance to the Santo Nino of Cebu leads us to believe that it must have been brought to the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan, who made an earlier voyage in 1521. The image was discovered atop a pandan bush, while being adored by natives in a pagan ritual. The image was taken by the Spaniard amidst great rejoicing, and from that day on, it was said that the Virgin "began to shed the rays of her charity i ever so many miracles which she wrought in behalf of the people at large and the Navigators". Thus, she was given the title of "Virgen de Guia" (Guide) and named as the protector of the galleons in Castille. 

Like the Santo Nino, the De Guia image is believed to be of 13th century make, with a style characteristic of Flemish carvings. She is shown with clasped hands, with palms facing each other, wearing a large bejewelled crown and halo. It rests on an elevated base trimmed with pandan leaves, in direct reference to how it was seen upon Her discovery.

On 9 August 1758, the Spanish king declared the Ntra. Sra. de Guia as the "sworn patroness" of the city of Manila. The image survived the pillage of Chinese, earthquakes and the catastrophic effects of the last World War. It was sealed in one of the niches of the crypt of the stone church and was dug up only during the Liberation, placed under the care of a Taft Avenue resident until it was safe to enthrone her at her shrine where she has reposed ever since.

The image was canonically crowned on 30 December 1955 by Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi and was  blessed by Pope Paul VI at the Manila Cathedral on 27 November 1970.

Shrine: Ntra. Sra. de Guia Parish, M.H. del Pilar St.
Feast day:  Last Sunday of December

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