By Christina I. Hermoso
Hundreds of devotees of the revered Our Lady of Candles (Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria) are expected to gather today at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo City for the commemorative masses in celebration of the feast of the patroness of Western Visayas and Jaro, Iloilo.
The traditional blessing of candles, which are brought home by devotees and pilgrims in the belief that the blessed candle will protect them against evil, harm, and misfortune, will be held, as well as a high mass, and a grand procession. Other activities to be held include the Jaro carnival, where a fiesta queen will be chosen, an agro-industrial fair, concerts, exhibits, a garden show, and a grand cock derby.
The miraculous image of Our Lady of Candles was canonically crowned by Saint John Paul II on his first visit to the country in 1981. It is enshrined at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral which was declared a national shrine during the Feast of Our Lady of Candles in 2012.
According to stories, the image of the Blessed Mother, carrying the Infant Jesus on her right arm and a green candle on both hands, was found by fishermen on a river bank in Iloilo in 1587. It was later placed in a small church in Jaro and was transferred to the Jaro Cathedral in 1864.
Meanwhile, devotees of Our Lady of Candles in Metro Manila traditionally visit and pray before her image enshrined at the Presentation of the Child Jesus Parish in BF Homes, Parañaque City and at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish in Paco, Manila.
Also today, the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord. Also known as Candlemas Day, many Catholic churches will hold the traditional procession of blessed candles to remind the faithful that “Jesus is the Light of the world, who, by His birth, saved the human race from eternal damnation and expelled the darkness of evil and death.”