From: CBCP News
By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban
November 27, 2021
Sta. Maria, Bulacan
A new era and a distinguished new title has come to La Purísima Concepción Parish in Bulacan province’s Sta. Maria town.
In a solemn Mass Saturday, the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, the church was formally raised to the dignity and honor of a minor basilica.
The ceremony was led by Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, together with Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos, and other bishops and clergy.
The liturgical service was preceded with a civic reception to the nuncio led by Santa Maria Mayor Russel Pleyto and was attended by other town and provincial officials.
During the Mass, the decree of the basilica was read before the congregation and the official symbols of the basilica – the tintinnabulum (basilica bell) and the umbraculum (papal umbrella) were brought in procession.
In his homily, Archbishop Brown praised the basilica as “a beautiful church with a wonderful and beautiful celebration” and that it reflects “the words written in the dome of the church – Tota Pulchra es – ‘You are wholly beautiful.’”
He noted among the basilica symbols the umbraculum, which symbolizes the “closeness and protection of the pope to the church” can also be said as the “closeness and protection of the Virgin Mary”.
He added that the theme for the celebration “Sub Tuum Præsidium” (We fly to your Protection), which refers to the third century Marian prayer, is a sign of being “under the veil or the mantle of the Virgin Mary that shows us the protection of Mary.”
In his thanksgiving address, Basilica Rector Msgr. Alberto Suatengco noted that the occasion “is another miracle of the Virgin after 230 years since Santa Maria was founded.”
He also said that “the first miracle would be how the Virgen La Purísima Concepción shows her continuous maternal care for all of us, the miracle of her reliable patronage.”
It was on March 21 when Bishop Villarojo announced that Pope Francis has approved a petition to elevate the parish church to the rank of a minor basilica.
Founded by the Franciscans in 1792, the Sta. Maria church is the second minor basilica in the Malolos diocese after the historic Malolos Cathedral, which became a basilica in 1999 in light of the centennial celebration of the Philippine Republic.
It is also the 18th of 19 minor basilicas in the Philippines. The others include the San Sebastian, Manila (1890); Immaculate Conception, Batangas City (1948); St. Martin of Tours, Taal, Batangas (1948); Sto. Niño, Cebu City (1965), Manila Cathedral (1981); Our Lady of Charity, Agoo, La Union (1982); Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Naga City (1985); Quiapo Church (1987); St. Michael, Tayabas City (1988); Binondo Church (1992); Our Lady of Piat (1997); Malolos Cathedral (1999); Manaoag Church (2014); Mount Carmel, New Manila (2018); St. John the Baptist, Badoc, Ilocos Norte (2018); Orani Church (2019); Santuario de San Pedro Bautista (2020) and Sinait Church, Ilocos Sur (2021).
POCKET FILM: BY SABINS STUDIO