Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, Philippines

On February 17, 2015, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was solemnly declared as a Minor Basilica. The decree conferring the honorific title was issued by Pope Francis on October 11, 2014.

The solemn proclamation took place during the 4:00pm Mass with H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as the main celebrant, accompanied by H.E. Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, H.E. Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, more than forty (40) other archbishops and bishops, and more than 300 diocesan and religious priests, as concelebrants. It was also well-attended by the Dominicans from the Dominican Province of the Philippines and from the Our Lady of the Rosary Province, led by Br. Gerard Francisco Timoner, OP, Prior Provincial, and Br. Jerry Manlangit, OP, who wore a black mozetta being the Rector of the Shrine. Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, represented Pope Francis. During the entrance procession, which started from the newly renovated patio, the processional cross was followed by the symbols of the new status of the Shrine as Basilica: the Basilica insignia; the papal umbrella (ombrellone), the papal bell (tintinnabulum) and the banner of the crossed keys together with the breve apostolico mounted on a board.

The proclamation was attended by thousands of devotees from all walks of life. Some of the dignitaries who graced the occasion were President Benigno Aquino III’s sisters: Ms. Balsy Aquino-Cruz and Ms. Viel Aquino-Dee; Gov. Amado Espino Jr., Vice Gov. Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, Reps. Gina de Venecia, Kimi Cojuangco, Rosemary Arenas, and Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez.

After the Kyrie, Cardinal Quevedo read the apostolic brief signed by Most Rev. Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in the name of Pope Francis, granting to the Shrine dedicated to God and in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the title and dignity of Minor Basilica. Cardinal Quevedo read the said proclamation in Latin and English. The apostolic brief was formally given to Br. Jerry Manlangit, OP, by Cardinal Tagle, followed by the blessing of the papal umbrella (ombrellone) and papal bell (tintinnabulum). The faithful and devotees erupted in joy, and the Gloria was solemnly sung.

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle stressed the honor and mission that the title Minor Basilica entails. Guided by the Scripture readings chosen for the celebration, he expounded on three points.

The Minor Basilica is a sign of God’s abiding presence in our midst. It is God’s dwelling place where one can feel God’s presence. Likewise, he compared the basilica with Mary, whose image is enshrined in it. Mary became God’s dwelling place. He challenged the faithful to imitate Mary and allow God to dwell within them.

The Minor Basilica is a house of prayer. However, Cardinal Tagle emphasized the need to pray for others, before praying for oneself.

The Minor Basilica is a place of visitation. It is here that one can visit Mary, to have an encounter with her and her Son. However, this visit should empower one to visit others, the poor and the needy, just like Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth. Such can be an effective way of continuing the works of Mary, whom we consider as our Mother.

After the post communion prayer, the Te Deum was sung, and Archbishop Villegas delivered his words of gratitude to the Lady of Rosary. It was a reminiscent of his journey from the Diocese of Balanga to the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, wherein he heard Mary’s voice calling him to shepherd God’s people in Lingayen-Dagupan.  It was the fulfillment of the promise he made to our Lady to honor her with his life and ministry. Archbishop Pinto’s words of gratitude followed.

The celebration was capped by a solemn procession of the image of our Lady joined by the faithful from all over the archdiocese and neighboring dioceses.

Indeed, to Apo Baket, Our Lady of Manaoag, no honor is enough. We shall never get tired of praising you (Mary) until we see your face, with the face of your Son in heaven, forever and ever. Amen. 

By Br. Hilario V. Sicat Jr., OP


(06 March 2015)