Last July 11, 2022 at 5PM, the Franciscan Friars of St. Anthony Shrine in Sampaloc, Manila together with the members of the Order of Franciscan Seculars (OFS) and numerous devotees joyfully gathered to celebrate the 290th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Miraculous Image of Nuestra Señora dela Peregrina.
The solemn affair started with the meditation on the Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Franciscan Crown) led by members of the Secular Franciscans. The OFS hails the Virgin of Pilgrims as their Principal Patroness here in the Philippines. OFS Fraternities from Morong Rizal, Calamba Laguna, Quezon City, Marikina, Las Piñas, Parañaque and of course the Proto Filipno Fraternity in Sampaloc, Manila were present for the celebration.
After the Angelus the “La Peregrina Bell” of 1897 was joyfully tolled to herald the start of the simple yet solemn procession and enthronement of the ancient and venerated image of the “Immaculada Peregrina”, escorted by the Franciscan Friars led by the local superior, Rev. Fr. Baltazar A. Obico OFM, Altar Servers and EMHCs. The solemn concelebrated mass was officiated by Fr. Baltazar A. Obico OFM together with Fr. Andrew J. Litigio OFM, Fr. Ray Anthony B. Ferrer OFM, Fr. Ronald Allan L. Samson OFM Cap. and Fr. Wilfredo S. Benito OFM, who was the eloquent preacher.
In his homily, Fr. Benito narrated the brief history of Our Lady of Pilgrims: when Fray Jose Santaella embarked on a second missionary venture to the Philippines, he placed it under the tutelage of the Immaculate Conception under the title “La Peregrina”. The said image was commissioned in Madrid, Spain and accompanied the missionaries in their long and perilous journey from Spain to Puerto Rico, Mexico and finally to the Philippines. The missionaries arrived in the Philippine shores together with the treasured image on the 11th of July, 1732. It was first enshrined in the Parish of San Fernando de Dilao in Paco, then in 1794 it was transferred and made the patroness of the Chapel of the Venerable Order of Tertiaries in Sampaloc, Manila.
Fr. Benito further explained that the title ‘La Peregrina’ commemorates the 2nd Joyful Mystery: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth; he noted that the said patronage is apt for the OFS for like Mama Mary every Secular Franciscan is called to bring the Lord Jesus Christ to every corner of the world and to all peoples. He succinctly expressed that in this life’s pilgrimage we must imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary who was always in COMMUNION with the triune God, ever ready to offer herself and actively PARTICIPATE in the work of redemption and faithful to her unique MISSION in the grand plan of Salvation. Thus, “La Immaculada Peregrina” is our most able guide and sure companion towards a Synodal Church.
After the Post Communion Prayer, Mr. Michael P. delos Reyes was awarded a certificate of recognition for his authorship of the book: “Immaculada Peregrina: Kasaysayan at Debosyon” and was also gifted by the OFM and OFS community of Sampaloc with an image of Our Lady of Pilgrims made from the Molave wood of the former beam of the shrine.
The affair was put to a close with the singing of the Tota Pulchra Es Maria intoned by the friars and with the floral offering of all those present. A simple ‘salu-salo’ then followed in the true Franciscan Spirit, with a cup os sopas and hard-boiled egg, made more delicious by the camaraderie of the friars, the OFS and devotees. Surely, La Immaculada Peregrina from her celestial throne is smiling upon all who attended and paid her homage. Viva la Virgen! Viva la Immaculada Peregrina! (John Erwin Enriquez/SOCOM-St. Anthony Parish | Photos by Vlad Ables/SOCOM- St. Anthony Parish)