Original image of La Salud graces Intramuros GMP 2018

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Intramuros, MANILA—The Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno joined, for three consecutive years, the Intramuros Grand Marian Procession. And no other than the original 384 year-old image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud was brought by the Augustinian Recollect friars last December 2, 2018 in the streets of Intramuros.

The original image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud brought by the Augustinian Recollect missionaries 384 years ago.

In 2016, the image of La Salud was registered to join the IGMP as part of the project to re-introduce the devotion to Nuestra Señora de la Salud. It was the first time that La Salud was brought back to Intramuros since San Nicolas Church, where La Salud was then enshrined, was destroyed during World War II.

This yearly procession of different Marian images—those that are privately owned, the veneradas and the coronadas—graced the streets of Intramuros in preparation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness and namesake of Cathedral of Manila and Principal Patroness of the Philippines.

Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Morong, a Canonically Crowned image of Mary, was also brought by the Augustinian Recollect missionaries 400 years ago. It is now the patroness of Morong, Bataan, and was crowned by the Papal Nuncio, Arch. Gabriele Giordano Caccia, DD, last October 10, 2018.

In the book edited by Nick Joaquin entitled The Philippine Rites of Mary, it vividly described the expression of the faithful of Intramuros, the old walled city of Manila, in their celebration of the feast of La Purisima. The rebuilding of the Walled City has been laudably accompanied by the desire to revive its devotional life, so that the reconstruction “may be not just a cold monument of stone but a living town again, its walls and streets and towers informed by a culture extending deep into the past and continuing as well into the present.”

One of the idea of restoring the culture of Intramuros was that a Marian Procession be organized to honor Mary that would turn Intramuros “both the pageantry and the piety of its past, and make it again a center of the city’s life,” Joaquin added. The first procession was held in 1979 where different images of the Madonnas of the Philippines were brought to the streets of Intramuros. The in-charge of this annual devotion were the clergy of the Manila Cathedral and the Priory of San Agustin, and the Damas y Caballeros de la Inmaculada Concepcion.

Then, on the following years, more and more images and titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with her Son, Jesus Christ, were brought and became an attraction as they celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

At present, the Intramuros Administration, Cofradia de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Inc., and the Armed Forces of the Philippines organized this annual event.

Usually set on the first Sunday of Advent, IGMP 2018 showcased a total of 116 Marian images. The procession started at Magallanes Drive besides the ruins of the Aduana Building, then left to Arsobispo Street. Then the procession turned left to Postigo Street then to General Luna Street where some Church officials, Hermanos and Hermanas Mayores, and the faithful were waiting in front of Manila Cathedral. Each image was introduced of its history, provenance, and the persons who take care of the image. Titles of Mary that depicted her life, such as Maria La Niña, La Buena Familia de Maria—where images of St. Joachim and St. Anne, parents of Mary, were also shown—her Assumption, and Coronation, were the first groups that were shown to the faithful. Next group of Marian images brought at the façade of the Manila Cathedral were those owned by families and private individuals. The venerated images of Mary, where Nuestra Señora de la Salud and other antique images belong, followed by the Canonically Crowned images of Mary were presented.

Augustinian Recollect Sisters led the procession followed by the coristas, then by the devotees. Fray Emilio Edgardo Quilatan, OAR, led the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

The procession continued to Muralla Street where the building of Manila Bulletin is located. That exact location was where the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino stands before World War II. In that church, La Salud was enshrined for more than 200 years. As the procession passed through Muralla Street, some devotees said that the ambiance became more solemn as if it was a reminder that beside that street was La Salud’s former shrine. Then, the procession ended at Colegio Sta. Rosa.

Devotees of La Salud wore red t-shirts, depicting that Nuestra Señora de la Salud is a “penitential image” because originally, her feast day was on the third Friday of Lent.

Nuestra Señora de la Salud was the 70th image in the sequence of the procession. More than 250 devotees, including some Augustinian Recollect religious and priests, Augustinian Recollect Sisters, members of Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity, Recollect Augustinian Youth, and Confraternity of Augustinian Recollect Altar Servers joined the procession. Four parishes in Metro Manila that are administered by the Recollects also sent their delegations. There were also devotees from Batangas and Quezon Province that participated and expressed their devotion to La Salud.

Viva Nuestra Señora de la Salud!

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Fray Robin Ross Plata, OAR

Fray Robin Ross Plata, OAR

Priest/Religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.