By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban | November 26, 2020 | Bulakan, Bulacan
A town’s two parishes in Bulacan province rejoiced at the approval of petitions for Marian devotees in the area and across the Malolos diocese.
The San Isidro Labrador Parish in Brgy, Bambang in Bulakan town recently celebrated the Episcopal Coronation of the venerated image of Maria, Salus Infirmorum (Mary, Health of the Sick).
The celebration was highlighted with a Mass led by Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Maloloson Nov. 16, which coincides with the traditional feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary Health of the Sick.
According to the parish, the image of Maria, Salus Infirmorum is “the first painted Marian image of Our Lady, Health of the Sick in the Philippines”.
It noted that it came originally as a replica of the same Marian title currently venerated in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Campo Marzio, Rome, Italy under the Camillan Fathers.
Enshrined in the parish in 1969, it is venerated by the parishioners of Bambang as a secondary patroness, which was confirmed by the decree of Malolos Bishop José Oliveros in 2016.
On Nov. 24, the bishop also approved the elevation of the town’s historic Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Church to diocesan shrine status, together with the grant of another Episcopal Coronation to the parish’s Marian image.
Founded by the Augustinian friars in 1578 as the first parish dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines.
It is also “the first Marian parish in the province of Bulacan and the entire Central Luzon Region”, according to Sandigan, the diocese’s official news organ.
“It has also been recognized as a birthplace of various Filipino religious devotions, including the introduction of the ‘Flores de Mayo’ or the devotional practice of offering flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May in the Tagalog Region,” it said.
The Flores de Mayo, the diocese said, was first held in the parish for the Tagalogs by Bulakeño priest Msgr. Mariano Villena Sevilla in 1865 and since then has been practiced across the country.
The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción will be solemnly declared and recognized as a shrine on Saturday, Nov. 28.
In 2017, the church has been recognized as an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines because of its unique architectural style having Romanesque-Moorish designs in its facade and exterior.
The church now joins the of Malolos diocese’s five diocesan shrines – Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (San Rafael, Bulacan), Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción de Salambao (Obando, Bulacan), Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Grace (Santa Maria, Bulacan), Mahal na Poong Krus sa Wawa (Bocaue, Bulacan) and St. John the Baptist (Calumpit, Bulacan). The Diocese now also has three national shrines – Our Lady of Fatima (Valenzuela City), St. Anne (Hagonoy, Bulacan) and the Divine Mercy (Marilao, Bulacan).
On the other hand, the images of Maria, Salus Infirmorum and Nuestra Señora de la Asunción are the fifth and sixth episcopally crowned Marian images in the diocese.
The others include the images of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción de Salambao (Obando, Bulacan), Our Lady of Fatima of Valenzuela City, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de San Sebastian de Pulong Buhangin (Santa Maria, Bulacan), Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario de Hagonoy, and Nuestra Señora de las Flores de Bocaue.
The diocese now has also two canonically crowned Marian images – La Virgen Inmaculada Concepcion de Malolos and La Purisima Concepcion de Santa Maria.