The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has finally elevated the San Pascual Baylón Parish-Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion de Salambao in Obando, Bulacan into a national shrine status.
On Wednesday, January 27, members of the CBCP voted in favor of declaring the church as a national shrine. The parish, commonly known as Obando Church to many Filipinos, is now the fourth church in the Diocese of Malolos and the 26th across the country to be given such a title.
The date for the formal declaration is yet to be announced.
Founded by the Franciscan missionaries on April 29, 1754, the Obando Church was built together with a small chapel that was dedicated to St. Clare of Assisi. Its titular patron, St. Paschal Baylón, was a Spanish lay Franciscan friar who was a dancing devotee to the Blessed Mother. (Read: The miracles of ‘Sayaw sa Obando’)
Years later, on June 19, 1763, an image of the Nuestra Señora de la Conception was discovered by fishermen in the waters near the borders of Obando. The image, believed to be miraculous and granting of prayers by couples and families, was brought to the parish for blessing and display.
News about the miraculous image immediately spread across neighboring towns and cities. Soon enough, Obando became a pilgrimage site for barren couples who wish to be blessed with children. (Read: Meet three women who became moms after the Obando Festival)
Today, hundreds of devotees participate at the annual Obando fertility dance rites every 17th to 19th of May — with each day celebrated in honor of St Paschal Baylón, St. Clare of Assisi, and the Our Lady of Salambao, respectively.
National Shrine Status
Before a parish church is elevated to national shrine status, it has to be first declared as a diocesan shrine or archdiocesan shrine by the bishop. (Read: Meet the My Pope Philippines Outstanding Parish Priests of 2021)
To make this possible, the parish must be widely acknowledged as a place of worship, Christian formation, and social services in the diocese. When all these demands are met, a petition for the bishop to canonically elevate the church into a diocesan or archdiocesan shrine status may be made.
Once the petition is granted, parishioners may then send a letter to the CBCP to formally apply their parish for elevation to national shrine status. (Read: The 10 Oldest Churches In The Philippines)
In turn, the CBCP’s Commission on Canon Law, Commission on Liturgy, and Commission on Doctrine will conduct a thorough investigation on the parish to ensure that all the criteria for a national shrine status are met.