BATANGAS CITY ? Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles confirmed that he had lifted the 1951 ban on the public veneration of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace.
In a phone interview Tuesday night, Arguelles said he lifted the ban on Nov. 12 as ?there was nothing wrong in praising apparitions? as he was well-aware of ?the love of the people for the Blessed Mother.?
?The Blessed Mother has [protected] the country from calamities,? he said.
In 1948, the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared 19 times to Teresita Castillo, a novice in the Carmelite Order in Lipa City. Rose petals with holy images reportedly fell from the sky. In her last apparition to Castillo, the Blessed Virgin identified herself: ?I am the Mediatrix of All Grace.?
Although the veneration of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace was permitted by then Bishop Alfred Verzosa, the Philippine church hierarchy declared in 1951 that ?there was no supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings including the shower of rose petals in Lipa,? according to the website www.marymediatrixofallgrace.com.
Withdrawn from the public
The website www.miraclehunter.com chronicles the events following the church decision: ?Bishop [Verzosa] and Mother Prioress were released of their jobs. The nuns were ordered to destroy all materials connected with the apparitions. They burned [Castillo?s] diary, as well as the Mother Prioress?. The statue [of the Virgin Mary] was also ordered destroyed, but the nuns ... saved it from destruction. The convent was sealed, and the nuns could talk to no one outside of the convent.?
Bishop Rufino Santos, who became apostolic administrator after Verzosa, ordered that ?no petals be given to anyone by the Lipa Carmelite community and the statue of Our Lady of Mediatrix be withdrawn from public view,? the website said.
Despite the passing of the years and the suppression, the Carmelite nuns of Lipa as well as the Marian devotees who believe in the apparitions, remained hopeful that one day, the case would be reopened and the apparitions declared authentic.
Many continued to believe and would go to the Carmelite monastery in Lipa to pray especially in the ?50s.
Image displayed again
In 1992, Archbishop Mariano Gaviola granted permission to once again display the image of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace. In 1993, he declared his personal conviction that the Lipa apparitions were worthy of belief, according to www.miraclehunter.com.
As the years went by, the ban seemed to have been disregarded as new proofs of the apparitions? authenticity were presented and accounts about the bishops? high-handed suppressiveness in 1948 were brought to light.
A repeat of the shower of rose petals is said to have occurred some years ago but the Carmelite nuns kept a low profile. Some people have petals in their possession.
In 2005, Arguelles resurrected the veneration for Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace with ?increased activity and devotion? and plans to place statues representing the Virgin of Lipa, in every diocese, according to www.miraclehunter.com.
Official lifting of ban
When Arguelles declared the official lifting of the 1951 ban on Nov. 12, it was the 61st anniversary of the last of the series of apparitions to Castillo which occurred from September to November in 1948.
Arguelles stressed: ?My order on Nov. 12 was merely a ?relifting? of Gaviola?s order.?
He also said that last month, he went to Rome to ask permission to search the archives for documents pertaining to the controversial apparitions but no such documents were found.
The Lipa Archbishop said that at 3 p.m. every 12th day of the month, the rosary is prayed by devotees from different towns in Batangas and from all over the country.
The devotion to Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace is acknowledged in all parishes in Laguna, said Fr. Romi Ponte, parish priest of San Gabriel in San Pablo City.
?In our parish, we have a huge picture of the Vigin Mary to whom devotees offer prayers and novenas,? he told the Inquirer in a phone interview Tuesday night.
The veneration of Our Lady has been promoted all over the country for more than a year now with a literature on the novena sold in Catholic bookstores, Ponte said.
Every year, some 1,000 copies of the novena are sold at the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore in SM Mall of Asia, the Inquirer learned.
?The Catholic bookstore is in the process of replenishing its copies, Ponte said.