Manaoag now home to newest minor basilica
MANAOAG, Pangasinan—From a small chapel built and visited by Augustinian missionaries in 1600, the church called Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag will finally be proclaimed a minor basilica, the highest title that a Catholic church outside Rome can earn, on Feb. 17.
“This is really an honor and prestige for the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The title ‘minor basilica’ is given only by the Pope and no one else,” said Fr. Ronald Mactal, the church’s chaplain and liturgist.
Pope Francis bestowed the church’s new status on Oct. 11 last year, more than three months before he visited the country on Jan. 15.
As a minor basilica, the church has been recognized for its devotion and for its role as center of liturgical celebration, Mactal said.
It earned its new status after a tedious documentation and validation that began in August last year. The process required the church leaders to answer a 14-page questionnaire in Latin.
“We documented everything: the vessels, the vestments, how many masses, sacraments, baptism. In a secular way, [getting the] minor basilica [status] is like [going through an] accreditation. We are being accredited by the Pope himself,” Mactal said.
The church became a parish when the Augustinians turned it over to the Dominicans in 1605. But it was only in 1701 when the construction of a big church at its present location began, according to the Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag website (www.manaoagshrine.org).
It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1882 and what was left of the building was burned by revolutionaries in 1898. It was rebuilt after the Philippine Revolution and was completed in 1912.
To date, it is the only Catholic church that has been operated by the Dominicans in Pangasinan since 1925, with the approval of the Holy See.
As a minor basilica, the church becomes a papal church and will be adorned with the papal seal, chair, umbrella and bell, Mactal said.
“In Pangasinan, this is the only one. That is why, Bishop Socrates (Villegas) called it the grandest celebration because in Rome, they will only grant one minor basilica in every archdiocese and diocese,” Mactal said.
Some of the other minor basilicas are the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros and the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.
The proclamation ceremony here will be preceded by three Masses to be celebrated each by bishops from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao from Feb. 14 to 17.
Thousands of pilgrims, including 60 bishops, 300 priests and government officials are expected to attend.
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