OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY, Santissimo Rosario Parish, U.S.T. ca. 1960.
The 1960 celebration of the Feast our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, from September 24 to October 2, was pacled with activities and marked with great pageantry, culminating in the grand procession of the images of Our Lady and St. Joseph in the late afternoon of Oct.2, Sunday. The Santissimo Rosario parish itself was erected on 2 May 1942, with its seat at the Students’ Chapel and Fathers’ Residence of the UST.
The first parish priest was the very rev. Fr. Emiliano Serrano O.P. U.S.T.’s close association with Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary began just before Santo Domingo Church was firebombed in December 1941, at the heaight of war. The miraculous image of our Lady was transferred under military escort to San Juan de Letran. But with Letran also under threat, the image was transferred to the U.S.T.’s Students’ Chapel where Our Lady stayed as a refugee, until her enshrinement at her magnificent church in Quezon City, built in 1954.
A replacement image was installed in the chapel, made of wood and carved in the round. It depicts a standing Mary, with the Christ Child on her left arm, while holding a rosary with the fingers of her right hand. The smaller-than-lifesize crowned image stands on a cloudy base adorned with flowers.
The devotion to Our Lady never waned even with her transfer, but in fact, became even stronger, as people flocked to U.S.T. to implore her maternal assistance particularly in October. The 1960 solemn festivities were marked with daily masses, novenas, flower offerings and vigils.
Block rosary units, established early in the parish area, practiced the “recitation of the rosary in the “Rosario de la Aurora”(dawn rosary) procession. This devotion took place at 4 a.m. on the first Saturdays of the month—from May to October. The faithful, carrying images our Lady and their candles, assembled at the U.S.T. gate and marched in procession around the campus, singing Ave Marias and praying the Rosary.
Today, the grandeur that was the pre-war Santo Rosario fiesta lives on, as more devotees from all corners of the Philippines gather every October to personally reaffirm their faith in the unfailing protection of their patroness, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.