There’s a sense of comfort and assurance one feels when reciting the Hail Mary or when asking for Mama Mary’s intercession. “She guards our faith, protects relationships, saves us in stormy weather, and preserves us from evil,” said Pope Francis in a Sunday Mass at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
In the Philippines, where countless devotees fondly refer to the Blessed Virgin as Mama Mary, Marian shrines abound. My Pope Philippines visits four of the over 30 shrines named after Christ’s most beloved Mother. (Read: Four fun facts that prove Pope Francis’ love for Mama Mary)
Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace
His Eminence, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, initiated the construction of the Shrine of Mary which is situated at the intersection of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue— where thousands of Filipinos from all walks of life gathered in February 1986 to denounce 21 years of Marcos rule.
Built on a lot donated by the prominent Ortigas and Gokongwei clans, the shrine design and development involved a team of celebrated artists and architects. Architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa designed the church to capture the rejoicing and liberation experienced during the EDSA Revolution. Sculptor Virginia Ty-Navarro created the bronze sculpture of our Lady of Peace. Manny Casal was responsible for the sculpture of the three men carrying a cauldron of flame. Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture Napoleon Abueva designed the 14 Stations of the Cross in bronze, and Eduardo Castrillo was behind the skylight’s beautiful stained glass.
Originally slated for inauguration on the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 8, 1989), the shrine was consecrated a week later after government forces thwarted a coup attempt by military reformists.
National Shrine of our Mother of Perpetual Help
Also going by the names Baclaran Church and Redemptorist Church, this shrine is the largest dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It was blessed by Pope John Paul II during his official visit to the country in 1981.
Devotees (as many as 150,000!) flock to this shrine in Roxas Boulevard, Parañaque, every Wednesday to attend a Mass and novena— hence the term “Baclaran Day.” (Read: Pinoy celebrities share how their devotion to Mama Mary worked miracles in their lives)
Architect Cesar Concio is credited for giving this Marian church its Modern Romanesque design, its third iteration since the Redemptorist community arrived in the Philippines and settled in Opon, Cebu in 1906.
Shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc
A must-visit when in Ilocos Norte, the Shrine of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc houses the life-size image of the Blessed Mother and Child whose origin historians trace to Nagasaki, Japan.
Seen floating in the sea along with the Miraculous Statue of the Black Nazarene, the La Virgen Milagrosa was discovered in 1620 by fishermen in Badoc, who brought it to town and made it their patron saint. Meanwhile, fisher folk from Sinait, Ilocos Sur, claimed the Black Nazarene statue and made it their town’s patron saint.
Nuestra Señora de Candelaria
Housed in the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo City, the limestone image of Our Lady of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria was also first spotted floating along a body of water— in this case, the Iloilo River.
Found in 1587 by fishermen, the statue was difficult to lift until they decided to bring it to Jaro. Placed in a small niche in the church’s central spire, the statue has reportedly grown through the centuries, prompting caretakers to transfer it to a much larger niche placed in the cathedral’s balcony.
Pope John Paul II canonically crowned the statue during his apostolic visit to the Philippines in 1981. (Read: Pope Francis celebrates St. John Paul II’s 100th birth anniversary)