DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Oct. 8, 2015 – A Catholic prelate has corrected those who speculate on the worth of La Naval de Manila in terms of cash, stressing the centuries-old image’s real value can only be understood in heaven.
“How much is La Naval de Manila worth? Her worth can only be understood and valued in heaven. No jeweler, no sculptor, no embroiderer, no man or woman, no friar or priest, no child or parent, no one can ever grasp her value and her worth. … How can you measure the worth of your mother? How can you measure how much is the Mother of the Lord? The mystery of La Naval de Manila is too much to grasp here on earth. The mystery of La Naval de Manila is heavenly. Her worth is heavenly,” notes Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, a known devotee of the Blessed Virgin, in a reflection he shared on his social media page.
Not about material
While he admits experts can estimate the monetary value of all the precious items that adorn the image and the image itself, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reminds the faithful La Naval de Manila is not about the material it is made, but the rich devotion it has spawned.
“We get it all wrong when we value La Naval de Manila with these measures. La Naval de Manila is worth all the billions of rosaries prayed by Filipinos and Spaniards, Chinese and Americans, Africans, and Asians through the centuries before her tender image. La Naval de Manila is worth all the poems and songs and hymns that Dominican friars and nuns have recited and sung for her through almost four hundred years. La Naval de Manila is worth the millions of miles of candle light processions that her sons and daughters have walked for decades and decades since those battles of Manila Bay,” notes Villegas.
More precious than gold
According to him, La Naval is not about golden crowns and gold embroidered mantles, nor about glistening diamonds, a sculpted ivory face, and delicately shaped fingers, nor even the baldachino over it and the rose-bedecked carroza that carries it in regal procession.
“La Naval de Manila is worth all the children baptized into the Catholic Church through more than three centuries now; children who could have been Protestants now, had this ‘pueblo amante de Maria’ fallen into the Dutch forces in 1646 in the Battles of La Naval de Manila,” he says.
Worth in faith
The prelate boasts that La Naval is worth all the novenas and pleas offered by rich and poor alike, the happiness that the children of Tatalon bring to all, the pride and fervor felt upon seeing the gala-dressed pupils of Angelicum and Siena, and the snappy cadets of San Juan de Letrán College and the University of Santo Tomás (UST).
“La Naval de Manila is worth a papal signature and papal seal authorizing that she be crowned under the authority of the successor of Peter. La Naval de Manila is worth our faith in the Father, our love for the Son and our obedience to the Spirit,” Villegas continues.
La Naval month
Meanwhile, Mary Anne Barcelona and Consuelo B. Estepa, authors of “Ynang María: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines,” shares that the whole month of October is dedicated to the commemoration of the naval battles of Oct. 1646, when devotees hold a procession on the second Sunday in what is touted the ‘celebrity of all Catholic celebrations.’
According to them, besides Sto. Domingo in Quezon City, the Feast of La Naval is celebrated in Fort San Felipe, Cavite City, and in others towns and parishes named after the Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary.
Barcelona and Estepa share La Naval was declared the official patroness of the Philippine Navy (PN) in 1975 by Archbishop Mariano Gaviola, then military vicar of the country due to its historical roots in the naval battles that saved the country from the Dutch invasion of 1646.
Schedule of Masses at Sto. Domingo on Oct. 11, is as follows: 5:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.
A Grand Procession is set at 4:00 p.m. the same day. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)