Manaoag now PH’s newest papal basilica
MANAOAG, Pangasinan—Briccio de Vera, 62, traveled for three hours with his family from Baliwag town in Bulacan province on Tuesday to hear Mass at the Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag church here.
At least twice a year since the early 1990s, De Vera has been coming to Manaoag to ask the Virgin Mary to bless his family. In the last three years, he has been praying for his own health.
“I’ve been going through dialysis in the last three years. I’m praying for a longer life that’s why we are here,” he said. “I think we are lucky today because this is the day when this church will be proclaimed as a minor basilica.”
He said that as a minor basilica, the church has become a papal church.
The church was proclaimed the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag during a Mass concelebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto, who represented Pope Francis, read the proclamation, which was written in Latin and signed by the Pope on Oct. 11, 2014.
At least 60 bishops and 300 priests witnessed the solemn proclamation.
“This is a historic event because this will be the first and the only minor basilica in Pangasinan,” Fr. Jerry Manlangit, the church prior, said.
“As a minor basilica, we have elevated the level of status of this church … It has reached that level in which we now have a new kind of status, which also means that it is a place of worship for hundreds of thousands of people who come regularly,” he said.
Manlangit said the church now had the privilege of granting plenary indulgence, which is given only by the Vatican.
A plenary indulgence removes all of the temporal punishments for sins, according to the Roman Catholic website www.catholic.org.
“There is still the requirements that you should hear Mass, [go to] confession and receive Communion. If you have done this, anytime you hear Mass here, the plenary indulgence is in effect. [When] God calls us, we go direct to heaven,” Manlangit said.
On Tuesday, the popemobile used by Pope Francis during his visit to the Philippines in January was displayed in the church’s front yard.
A papal seal now adorns the façade of the church. A papal chair was placed in front of the altar and the papal bell and an umbrella were displayed during the procession that preceded the Mass.
Manlangit said the church was unique because it was built after an apparition of the Virgin Mary to a farmer in the 17th century.
“The Virgin told the farmer, ‘Call other people and build me a church here.’ That’s why this place is also called ‘Manaoag,’ from the word tawag, which means to call,” said Manlangit.
The church became a parish church when the Augustinians turned it over to the Dominicans in 1605. But it was only in 1701 that construction of a big church on its present site began.
The new church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1882 and what was left was burned by revolutionaries in 1898.
The church was rebuilt after the Philippine Revolution and was completed in 1912.
At present, it is the only church run by the Dominicans in Pangasinan. The Dominicans have been running the church since 1925, with the approval of the Holy See.
Miracles have been attributed to the Virgin of Manaoag.
“Many miracles happened [like] the disappearance of a pest that had been plaguing all of Pangasinan for many days. Then the resurrection of a child from Binmaley [town]. The family walked for five hours and when they reached the image of the Virgin Mary, the child lived. There were many other miracles,” Manlangit said.
He said that with the church becoming a minor basilica, more people will be coming here to pray and ask for the Virgin’s blessing.
On Tuesday morning, the Rosales-Urdaneta section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) was opened to traffic after it was closed on Jan. 20.
Tony Reyes, TPLEx marketing head, said the company running the expressway opened that section, toll-free, for the event in Manaoag.
From Balintawak in Quezon City to Urdaneta City, travel to Manaoag takes two hours. Motorists take only 30 minutes to reach this town from TPLEx’s Urdaneta exit.
Manaoag now home to newest minor basilica
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