By Nel Andrade
BINANGONAN, RIZAL– Religious life-size images and structures inside a prayer sanctuary in this town were discovered desecrated and damaged recently.
Linda Juan, one of the owners of Marian Hill, a prayer sanctuary located on the hill of Barangay San Carlos Heights in this municipality told Manila Bulletin about the damaged concrete statues of the Our Lady of Lourdes and the kneeling Saint Bernadette in the grotto of the prayer hill. The disfigurement of the two statues happened barely a month to the feast day of the Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11.
The nose of the giant-sized Marian statue was severely damaged and her clasping hands were dismembered when found by a woman who was visiting the sanctuary during the weekend.
Juan said the life-sized image of Saint Bernadette which was supposed to be kneeling in front of the image of the golden crowned-Virgin Mary dressed in white, was found in the ravine several meters away from its intended site inside the prayer hill.
Angono based artist, Arturo ‘Totie’ Argana, one of those who are maintaining the prayer facility and was also involved in the design of the images and structures in the place, said they have no idea who are the people behind it.
The concrete handrail of the stairway leading to the grotto of the Virgin Mary was also found to have been intentionally broken by the still unidentified suspect or suspects.
Juan said last weekend’s desecration was the second time that it happened in the prayer sanctuary with the first incident discovered during the Holy Week last year.
The other giant sized statues that are inside the prayer facility appeared to be intact and in perfect condition. The facility is open Friday to Sunday, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Aside from the grotto, the prayer hill has giant statues of the Santo Niño; Jesus Christ the Redeemer, which is standing and facing towards the Laguna Lake; the stations of the cross; the mysteries of the Holy Rosary; Saint Michael the Archangel, the Nativity scene, and the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, among others.
The management of the prayer facility put up a tarpaulin beside the damaged statues with the words:‘Ang naglapastangan ng imahen ng Mahal na Birhen at kay St. Bernadette ay gawain ng mga taong walang puso, nawa’y ipagdasal natin sila. Salamat po. (The desecrators of the image of the Virgin and St. Bernadette have no mercy. Let us pray for them. Thank you.”
Juan said the management is planning to install additional CCTV cameras in the premises to protect the prayer facility, which also has a chapel that holds anticipated Sunday mass every Saturday at 4 p.m.
Entrance to the prayer facility is free.