Quezon City, Philippines – A very different celebration of the Feast of Nuestra Senora del Santissimo Rosario La Naval de Manila was celebrated by the devotees last October 11, 2020. The grand carosas of the saints of the Holy Rosary and the elegant baldochino of the Blessed Virgin was out of sight for the first time since the tradition of celebrating the Feast of La Naval de Manila began.
“Sadyang kakaiba ang ating pagdiriwang sa taong ito dahil sa krisis na ating nararanasan. Wala ang magandang baldochino ng ating Mahal na Ina, wala ang karosa na punong puno ng dekorasyon, wala ang maraming taong namamanata. Ngunit alam nating lahat na tayo ay hindi pababayaan… na tayo ay patuloy niyang tutulungan at gagabayan sa pamamagitan ng Mahal na Birhen ng La Naval,” said Rev. Fr. Robert Quirao, OP., prior of the convent of Sto. Domingo Church.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of the Diocese of Cubao led the fiesta mass celebration with a few people inside the church while the others stayed outside following the implemented protocols. In his reflection, Bishop Ongtioco emphasized that Mary is the model of hope, healing and unity in the midst of pandemic. The devotees should imitate her obedience to God for them to receive the Lord’s blessings and be able to share it with others. “Dito nakikita natin ang ating Mahal na Ina bilang modelo kung paano tayo tumutugon, makiisa sa plano ng Diyos at ang bunga nito- hindi lamang ikaw ang pagpapalain ng Diyos,” Bishop Ongtioco said.
The prelate also reminded the faithful about the importance of strengthening our faith in this trying time. He said that despite the uncertainties of our current situation, we just need to persevere in our faith and it will yield God’s grace. “Marami tayong questions, pero ano ang ibig sabihin ng sumampalataya, manalig? Maaring ngayon hindi mo nakikita ang saysay, kahulugan ng nararanasan mo ngunit kung ikaw ay kumapit sa Diyos, balawang araw makikita mo ang bunga ng iyong pananampalataya,” the prelate added.
The annual grand procession of saints which is one of the highlights of the La Naval festivities was cancelled this year because of the pandemic. The procession was replaced by the grand Dungaw which allowed the people outside the church to have a glimpse of the Our Lady of La Naval.
The title “La Naval de Manila” was the first and only local Marian devotion in the Philippines recognised by the Vatican. In 1646 when the Dutch Republic attempted to invade the Philippines, the Filipino and Spanish naval crews who were greatly outnumbered prayed pervently and sought the intercession of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in all the battles. They vowed that if they were victorious, they would walk barefoot towards her shrine in Santo Domingo Church which was then located in Intramuros, Manila. Five major naval battles ensued that became popularly known as the La Naval Saga. On October of the same year, the Filipino forces celebrated their victory and the first feast honoring Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary La Naval de Manila.