MANILA, April 29, 2015—Thanks to a social media post, one of the least known Marian devotions in the country receives a new lease in life, making a successful comeback recently.
“The Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de Echague (Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Echague) has played an important role in the history of Catholic Manila. While the expatriates and elite of the city had Our Lady of La Naval all to themselves within the confines of Intramuros, the humble faithful had their Virgin of Echague outside the walls,” Marian devotee James Benedict Malabanan told CBCP News in an interview.
An enthusiast of everything related to the Queen of Heaven, Malabanan started posting photographs of the Virgin of Echague online on April 16, much to the delight of fellow netizens who were unfamiliar with the particular Marian devotion, having heard of its existence only for the first time.
“Since in the olden days, not everyone, much less a poor Indio, could freely enter Intramuros even just to venerate the Virgin of La Naval, settlers of ‘extramuros,’ or the districts surrounding the Walled City like Paco, La Ermita, Binondo, but especially Quiapo, had no other choice but to come out with their own devotion as their way to compensate,” he said.
Given that many of these Filipinos hailed originally from Pangasinan, Bataan, and Pampanga, Malabanan theorized the Virgin of Echague could possibly be a painted version or an “estampa” of either Manaoag or Orani.
Unlike the more popular, three-dimensional depictions of Mary, the Virgin of Echague is an oil painting in a frame 40 centimeters-wide and 50 centimeters-long enshrined inside a semi-hidden chapel in a street in Quiapo, which lends the centuries-old picture its name.
According to Malabanan, the cloth the Blessed Mother appears to wear was added only during the American period, giving the painted image a “sculpted” look.
Where in years before only a handful of hardcore devotees cared to attend, dozens of Catholics, many of whom young first-timers, joined the procession of the Virgin of Echague around Quiapo on Sunday, April 25.
“I have done what I did in order to revive this particular devotion so that it won’t be completely forgotten. Numerous records attest to miracles credited to her intercession. Let the public know about the Virgin of Echague,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)