Palo’s Marian image of salvation, hope replicated for Leyte folk
GUAGUA, Pampanga—The first replicas of a Marian image that has become a source of hope for survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) are being delivered to Leyte today in time for the second anniversary of the strongest typhoon on record, which killed more than 7,000 people in the Visayas.
Palo Archbishop John Du and the Daughters of St. Paul congregation will receive seven smaller versions of the wooden image of Our Lady of Hope of Palo used during the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Jan. 17 amid a storm in Tacloban City, sculptor Wilfredo Layug said.
Each of the replicas is made of resin and stands 1.05 meters tall.
The replicas were produced at Layug’s Betis Galleria in Santa Ursula village in Pampanga province where wood carving is an industry.
Layug said the growing devotion to Our Lady of Hope of Palo, which is enshrined at Metropolitan Cathedral of Palo, inspired the production of the replicas.
Parishes and schools in Leyte are buying 130 statuettes, he said. Each replica comes with a certificate of authenticity. The original image is covered by copyright, he said.
Name of the image
It was Du, inspired by the message of Pope Francis, who named the image.
Layug initially called it Nuestra Señora de Salvacion (Our Lady of Salvation). It combines features from the images of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Our Lady of Sorrows.
Pope Francis referred to the Marian image in his homily during the Mass for the typhoon survivors.
“Let us look to our Mother and, like a little child, let us hold onto her mantle and with a true heart say, ‘Mother,’” Francis said.
“In silence, tell your Mother what you feel in your heart. Let us know that we have a Mother, Mary, and a great Brother, Jesus. We are not alone. We also have many brothers who in this moment of catastrophe came to help. And we, too, because of this, we feel more like brothers and sisters because we helped each other,” he said.
“We are like a little child in the moments when we have so much pain and no longer understand anything. All we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say, ‘Mommy,’ like a child does when it is afraid. It is perhaps the only words we can say in difficult times—‘Mommy,’” Francis said.
The original image is 1.5 m tall. It stands on a 0.6-m base depicting a globe buffeted by giant sea waves. In the arms of Mary is a child who is holding out a rosary as a lifeline to another who is reaching for it from the crest of a wave, a figure not present in the smaller replicas.
‘She never left her people’
Encarna was applied on the original statue’s face and hands, giving it an impression of real flesh.
In Leyte, Du told the Inquirer that during Yolanda’s onslaught, he heard of several accounts that the Blessed Mother was around saving her children.
“She was there to pick up her children who were in despair during Yolanda. She never left her people,” Du said.
He said there were stories that a woman in a white dress helped several people out of the flood caused by the giant storm surges generated by Yolanda.
Du said, however, that he could not personally verify those stories.
Show of gratitude
Still, Du said Layug’s sculpture of Our Lady of Hope with a child in her arms and another at her feet shows how the Blessed Virgin saved the people of Leyte.
The image was enshrined at Metropolitan Cathedral of Palo after it was blessed by Pope Francis during his brief visit to Leyte.
Du called on the faithful in the parishes under the Palo archdiocese to honor Our Lady of Hope to show their gratitude for helping them during Yolanda.
He said that despite the massive devastation and pain caused by Yolanda, the people’s faith never wavered.
The tragedy, he added, only strengthened their faith in God who helped them.
Du said there had been a remarkable increase in the number of people going to church since Yolanda.
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