By Christina Hermoso
With the canonization of La Purisima Concepcion de Santa Maria in Bulacan over the weekend, Santa Maria parish priest Monsignor Ranilo Trillana said, it is time to promote devotion to the miraculous Marian image.
“Since we now have the image of Our Lady canonically crowned, it is now time to promote her. It has been a blessing that we have finalized the Perpetual Novena in honor of La Purisima Concepcion which will be available for the faithful,” Trillana said in a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines News post.
“The Perpetual Novena will be prayed every Thursday of the month which will be the special day dedicated to La Purisima Concepcion,” he added.
More than 3,000 devotees attended last Saturday’s coronation of the image of La Purisima Concepcion de Santa Maria in Bulacan, bringing the number of canonically crowned Marian images in the country to 42.
Church leaders, members of the clergy, and representatives of civic and religious groups attended the rites which were led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and Malolos Bishop Dennis Villarojo of at the La Purisima Concepcion Parish Church.
Also present were Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, Bishop Bartolome Santos of Iba, retired Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan, and Msgr. Julien Kaboré, Chargé d’ Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature.
The CBCP said, Ongtioco was serving as apostolic administrator of Malolos when Pope Francis approved the decree for the revered image’s canonical coronation in June 2019. A canonical coronation is a pious institutional act wherein the Pope, through a bull, designates a crown or stellar halo be added to a Marian image under a specific devotional title in a particular diocese.
“We thank God for this wonderful grace as we give honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Ongtioco said in his homily. “Even though the teaching of the Immaculate Conception was only promulgated a dogma in 1854, since 1792, the people of Santa Maria have been devoted to this particular title of Mary, conceived without original sin,” he said.
Ongtioco recalled the time between 1899 to 1931 when the image was taken away during the Filipino-American War. “Yet in 1931, the people of Santa Maria found the image once more in Gapan, Nueva Ecija and now was brought to her home to the joy of the people,” he said.
Founded by the Franciscan missionaries, the Parish of La Purisima Concepcion is one of the unique Marian centers of the diocese. Major construction works are underway including the Camarin de la Virgen behind the sanctuary, the grand and minor retablos, the altar, and the dome.
The church’s dome, now considered one of the artistic feats in a church, has paintings by Bulakeño artist Pelagio Santos featuring the twelve apostles and a number of local Marian devotions in Bulacan which include Our Lady of Salambao, Our Lady of Fatima, and Our Lady of the Assumption among others.
Msgr. Trillana said, the whole month of February is considered the fiesta period in the town.
Today, Feb. 2, “there will be the first replica procession of La Purisima Concepcion that will be accompanied by images cared for by different associations and individuals. The fiesta proper will be held on Feb. 6, traditionally on the Thursday after the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation,” he said.
La Purisima Concepcion is now the second canonically crowned Marian image in the Malolos diocese after La Virgen Inmaculada Concepcion de Malolos in 2012, which is currently enshrined at the Malolos Cathedral.
According to the CBCP, two more Marian images are expected to receive a canonical coronation this year in the country: Nuestra Señora delos Dolores of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Dolores, Quezon on March 25 and Nuestra Señora de Lourdes of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City on May 2.