VALENZUELA City, June 15, 2014—While the country recently marked its 116th year of independence with the usual raising of flags from Batanes to Jolo, a church in Valenzuela had an extra reason to party: its 38th anniversary as a national shrine.
“The most important decree of recognition to the devotion to Our Lady of Fátima in the country was given by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines [CBCP] on June 12, 1976 when it proclaimed our humble parish church as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima,” shared Jilson Tio, the shrine’s pastoral council secretary.
The declaration was in response to the desire to “foster greater devotion to Our Lady of Fátima in the Philippines”.
This decree was issued years before construction of the church complex was completed.
Tio noted that the gesture had no precedence in the history of churches in the Philippines.
He reasoned that usually a church has to be built first before any formal declaration can be made.
On December 3, 1982, the then tourism ministry declared the shrine a “tourist spot” in its bid to draw pilgrims and Marian devotees from across the country and elsewhere.
The shrine was finally consecrated on December 11, 1982.
Fourteen prelates—archbishops and bishops–graced the historic occasion with former Manila Archbishop Jaime L. Cadrinal Sin and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani leading the rites of consecration.
On February 28, 2011, Valenzuela legislators gave Our Lady of Fátima the title “Patroness of the City of Valenzuela”.
The shrine is home to the National Pilgrim Image of Our Lady of Fátima, the image paraded during the first EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 and of the Asian and National Center of the World Apostolate of Fátima (WAF).
It has since become a “beacon of light up to this day for hundreds of thousands of faithful and Marian devotees who flock to the shrine for prayer and blessing”.
Tio said, “I really feel blessed to be part of this parish and national shrine.” (Raymond A. Sebastián)