By Dhel Nazario
Among the hundred images of the Virgin Mary that took part in Sunday’s Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros was a replica of the image of Maria Auxiliadora de Marawi.
The original image was damaged beyond repair during the five-month siege of Marawi, and the story of how a new image came about symbolizes one man’s undying devotion to the Virgin Mary.
The replica was donated by Nolan Angeles, a government employee and a Marian devotee and propagator of the devotion to Mary Help of Christians.
Angeles said he was deeply distraught at seeing the damage that the Cathedral Parish of Santa Maria Auxiliadora, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, had suffered at the hands of Islamist extremists.
The battle of Marawi erupted on May 23rd, which was coincidentally the eve of the Feast of Mary Help of Christians.
The church was initially reported to have been torched by the rebels but images appearing on social media showed that it was battle-scarred but still standing.
Government troops finally wrested control of the cathedral, and on October 1, they attended Mass there, the first since the war broke out.
Following the declaration that the war had officially ended on October 17. more photos turned up online showing the massive damage to the cathedral. Among the casualties was the image of Maria Auxiliadora de Marawi, which was missing its head.
Angeles wasted no time contacting one of the country’s well-known sculptors of religious images, Ian Vicente. It was Vicente who made the Maria Auxiliadora de Marawi live again, so to speak.
The image was finished just in time for the procession.
It will then be turned over to St. Mary’s Cathedral as a donation of the Salesian Society of Saint John Bosco and the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians as well as from all Bosconians.
Angeles said he is coordinating with Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña for the date of the turnover.
Held every first Sunday of December, the procession revives the tradition that started in Intramuros on December 8, 1619. The original celebration ran for 15 days.
The Cofradia de la Immaculada Concepcion Foundation and the Intramuros Administration (IA) revived the festivity in 1980.
While the Blessed Virgin Mary has different titles, her greatest title is that of Mother of God, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said in an interview.
“The greatest title of Mary is that she is the Mother of God,” Bastes said.
He cited the title of Blessed Mother as the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto as an example.
“Most of the titles of the statues of Mary in procession derive from doctrines or earthly apparitions of Mary like the Immaculate Conception or Our Lady of Lourdes,” he said.
Among the images in the procession were that of Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and Our Lady of the Poor.
The procession was also held ahead of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. (With Leslie Ann G. Aquino)