Our Lady of Piat
|Our Lady of Piat
Banal na Birhen ng Piat
Our Lady of Piat enthroned in its shrine in Piat in 2011
|Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
|Roman Catholic Church|
|Attributes||dark complexion, with child Jesus, rosary, royal crown|
|Patronage||Piat, Cagayan Valley the sick, Itawis, Ibanag and Ilocano people|
Our Lady of Piat (formally: Nuestra Señora de Piat) is a 16th-century Roman Catholic icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the central figure at the altar of her shrine in Piat in the province of Cagayan, Philippines. Locally known as the patroness of the town, it is one of the most venerated Marian images of Mary in the Republic of the Philippines and is referred to as the Mother of Cagayan. The image of Our Lady of Piat is one of the most revered images among Catholics. Flocking every day to the shrine are devotees queueing to touch the image’s feet seeking her intercessions. Her devotees include the rich and powerful who spare no expense at showering the Blessed Virgin’s shrine with donations and gifts.
She was originally called Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) by the Dominican friars. The lady has been attributed to many miracles including an end to a drought that threatened famine in the Itawes region. Piat is now dubbed as the "Pilgrimage Center of Cagayan Valley" because of the thousands of devotees and tourists who come here to pay homage. She continues to be the source of inspiration and object of devotion of many Catholics in the region.
The lady is also called the "Black Virgin Mary" because of its color being brown or "muy morena". That was referred to as the appealing characteristic of the Blessed Virgin.
Our Lady of Piat is one of the oldest Marian images in the Philippines. On June 20, 1954, in a ceremony led by papal delegate Egidio Vagnozzi, she was named “Queen of Heaven and Earth.” The Ibanags call her “Yena Tam Ngamin” (Mother of Us All) and to the natives of Piat, Cagayan, she is known as “Apo Baket” (Grand Matriarch).
- 1 History
- 2 Miracles
- 3 Cagayan Shrine
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The itinerary of the Blessed Image of Our Lady of Piat started in Macau from where it was brought to Manila in 1604. Its first home was the convent of the Santo Domingo in Intramuros. From Manila she was taken to Nueva Segovia (now Lal-lo) to aid in the evangelization of the Itawes region, covering the towns of Tabang, Malaweg, Tuau (now Tuao) and Piat until it was brought to and stayed on Piat for five years. No description of the image is given by any of the historians, though it is often mentioned that is "of talla (sculpture)" made from paper-masche. Eventually the image was taken to Piat, and erected on a side altar. It was not long when the people felt special manifestations of divine favors through Our Lady. Their love and devotion to Our Lady had grown with the years, and attachment to her image bordered fantacism. This was clearly seen when Fr. Juan de Santa Ana sent the same image to Tuguegarao City in 1622 and ordered another one more beautiful from Manila to replace the image. In no time, the people rose up in public protest and asked to the point of insistence that the original image be returned to them. Knowing the peculiar character of the people, Fr. de Santa Ana finally gave in, and the image was brought back amid great rejoicing of the people. There arose, however, a dispute between the people of Piat and Tuao as to where the sanctuary should be constructed. Happily, solomonic solution was found, and it was agreed to have the sanctuary built between Piat and Tuao.
On December 26, 1923, the image of Our Lady was brought in a solemn procession from the parish church of Sto. Domingo to the new sanctuary. The following morning, a High Mass was sung and the sanctuary solemnly blessed with a great concourse of the faithful present. For the first time, the care of the sanctuary was given to the charge of Dra. Ines Maguillabbun. She introduced the pious custom of keeping a votive light burning day and night before the Lady's image, a custom which is kept to this date. Many years later, the people suffered great losses due to the inundations of the Chico River. Their deeply rooted devotion to Our Lady prompted them to move her sanctuary near the riverbank in the hope that she would spare them from the scourges of the yearly inundations. As a result, the people built a more spacious church of more durable materials on a hill about a mile from the parish church of Sto. Domingo. The present sanctuary was built by Rev. Fr. Diego Pinero and later restored by Fr. Jose Gurumeta in 1875.
Centered then on the “sambali”, the Piat townsfolk celebrate the Sambali Festival from June 23 to 30. The festivity flows into the celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Piat from July 1 to 2.
The lady is enthroned at the Basilica Minore Nuestra Senora de Piat which was recognized as a shrine by the Vatican on June 22, 1999. It celebrates its feast every July 2 wherein the lady is drawn for a procession.
On June 28–30, 2011, the lady participated in the parade of 12 famous Marian icons from the northern part of the country during the “3rd Marian Voyage of Peace and Love” at the Cagayan Foundation Day. The voyage was organized by the Cagayan North Convention & Visitors Bureau (CNCVB), the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, and the Department of Tourism (DoT), with the provincial government, to boost Cagayan’s campaign as a pilgrimage center. On July 9, 2011, the lady was honored for a special mass at the Sto. Domingo Church in Manila.
In 1730, Captain Jose Ramos, a Spanish officer assigned in Lallo, fell seriously ill. All efforts by his physicians failed, so he went on a pilgrimage to Piat to seek Our Lady's help. He made the trip with great difficulty but, upon arriving in Piat, his illness became worse and the parish priest gave him the last sacrament. However, he did not lose hope and continued to pray to Our Lady of Piat; after a few days he slowly recovered; within a week, he got well enough and went to Lallo to resume his duties.
On June 2, 1738, a boat with passengers was on its way from Pamplona to Aparri. Near the port, a sudden gale blew and it was swept out to sea. With the strong winds, heavy rains and big waves, rescue seemed impossible. A passenger on a pilgrimage to Piat began to pray the holy rosary and exhorted his fellow passengers to join him. They all did; soon afterward, the rain stopped, the winds died down and the boat and its passengers made it safely to port.
Also attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Piat is the miraculous recovery from serious illness of Dona Ines Maquilabbun, the first caretaker of the lady.
The end of persistent drought
The second miracle narrated by Aduarte[who?] had a greater resonance. The Itawes region, an agricultural area, often experienced severe droughts. But the one of 1624 was much worse than others they had suffered. Not a single drop of water had fallen for months. The farmers had planted their seed several times in vain. No crop was forthcoming. Fathers Juan de Santa Ana and Andres de haro, vicars of Piat and Tuao respectively, were thinking of organizing some processions and rogations to implore from heaven the much wanted rain. But they were afraid that the new Christians might falter in their faith or lose their trust in the power of prayer if the much-wanted result were not achieved. They agreed to go ahead with the plan. The Fathers preached fervent sermons to the people, insisting on the need to "repent from their sins and receive the sacrament of reconciliation," so that their prayers for rain would be heard. The people did that with great devotion. They stayed the whole day in the Ermita, confessing their sins, while others sung the Salve and recited other prayers to Our Lady. The people themselves proposed to march in procession to the Ermita from their respective towns the following day. But even before the procession could get started, it began to rain so profusely first over Piat, and then over Tuao, and their "sementeras" that "it seemed that the cataracts of heaven have been broken." The procession was eventually held but was now a procession of thanksgiving to Our Lady of Piat for the favor received. It kept raining uninterruptedly for three days. That year there was an abundant crop.
A boy recovered from insanity
In one of several of the graces or miracles narrated by Fr. Benito Gomez in Abulug a boy fell from the roof of the convent. As a consequence of the impact, the boy became insane. When his mother, Doña Paula, heard about the misfortune, she lost no time in bringing the young man to Our Lady of Piat, where she offered some candles and alms for a Mass to be said for the boy. In no time, her son Benito, became healthy again and free from his madness.
Freed from the grip of a crocodile
A special miracle recounted by Fr. Rojano occurred on the Holy Week of 1739; a native from Piat was crossing the river that flows near the Ermita, when he was caught by a crocodile. Placed in this terrible trance he called on Our Lady of Piat to come to his rescue. At the same time that he made the invocation, the crocodile let loose of his prey, and the poor man, shaking violently, went to the Ermita to thank Our Lady. This incident was told to Fr. Rojano by Fr. Diego de la Torre, who added that there were many witnesses to this prodigy.
A serious flooding
This time it was a problem of too much water. The Itawes river overflowed to the point that the water reached the cliff where the Ermita was built and the surrounding area, flooding the area and reaching several feet in height. Surprisingly, not a single drop of water entered the church, as if there was an invisible, mysterious wall preventing the water from going in. When, eventually, the river went back to its normal course, the Ermita was so dried, clean and tidy that no one would say any rain had fallen and not flooding had occurred in the vicinity. All this happened to the great surprise of the caretaker or "ermitaño" who, afraid for his life, had climbed to the altar of Our Lady and, on his knees, prayed for his safety. He propagated the extraordinary event and many people went to see for themselves what the "ermitaño" was telling. They could verify that it was true when they could see the marks of the height reached by the water on the walls outside but could not detect a single spot or a sign of water inside the church.
A child cured from leprosy
One more, and the last miracle, in Fr. Rojano's account: A little son of Alferez Don Pedro Leon y Labuag, a resident of Lallo, was covered with a very repulsive leprosy so that he was not allowed to touch anybody for fear of contamination. The help of Our Lady of Piat was sought. With the customary invocations and prayers, the boy was completely cured to the amazement of all.
A cure from pleurisy
Arieta Legasto, 77 years old from New Manila, Quezon City reports that through Our Lady's intercession, she was cured of a terrible sickness. In 1993, she fell ill with pneumonia. She developed pleurisy and the doctors drained some 500 centimeters of fluid from her lungs; a biopsy of lung tissue taken from her proved positive from cancer. At this time, her good friend, Carmeling Crisologo, a devotee of Our Lady of Piat, visited her and gave her a novena to the Blessed Mother and a vial of blessed oil and began the novena.
During the third and fourth day of novena, she reports that she experienced a very strange feeling as if, she said, something heavy was moving from the top of her head down through her body, and then it left her. From then on, she gradually improved in health such that she felt well enough to go to the USA for medical treatment. Before she left, she had a check up; again no pleurisy but the doctors found a benign tumor. She reports that she still feels some pain; despite the discomfort, she considers the pains she suffers as a blessing, an offering to our Lord in atonement for her sins.
Basilica Minore Nuestra Senora de Piat
The Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat is one of only 12 minor basilicas in the Philippines. It is distinguished as the home to the venerated Black Virgin Mary. The Basilica of Our Lady of Piat is in the town of Piat, which is 30 minutes away by land from Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Province or 41 kilometers northwest of Tuguegarao City. This pilgrimage site attracts a large number of devotees especially on July 1 and 2 when the feast of Nuestra Señora de Piat is celebrated.
One thing that is different about the Basilica of Our Lady of Piat was its entrance arch. It was at the back of the church and one has to go around from the entrance to see the church facade. The arch has the phrase, Basilica Minore Nuestra Senora De Piat (Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Piat). Our Lady of Piat Basilica sports a simple facade flanked with a tall belfry. It is on top of a hill in the midst of Cagayan River with the intention of avoiding floods brought about by the seasonal overflowing of the river. The church structure is mainly made of red bricks, which is common among churches in Cagayan Valley. It is a contrast to old churches made of limestone and coral stone in many parts of the Philippines.
The interiors is of curved ceiling made of wood with historical images and accounts at the top of the walls. On the altar lies the Blessed Virgin Mary covered with a glass. There are verandas inside the church which makes the shrine elegant. At the back of the church are staircases leading to a window exactly at the back of the Virgin Mary wherein devotees can touch the dress of Our Lady.
Masses are offered every day and thousands of devotees attend every Sunday.
Bukal ng Buhay (Spring of Life)
In April 2005, the spring started to draw crowds of devotees tagged along by a woman who dreamed of the Miraculous Lady of Visitation of Piat, insisting in her dream, while she was working abroad 10 years earlier, to go personally to Piat to look for the hidden spring just near the sanctuary on the hill where this Miraculous Lady is enshrined.
From that day on up to this day, this spring has become a crowd drawer even people from the medical fields. These devotees when would share stories on how they would get healed of their ailments, on how they would get over their surgical operation schedules after they drink and wash themselves with the miraculous water they draw from this Bukal ng Buhay. The bukal was featured on several television documentaries in the Philippines.
The Sambali Festival is held every July 1 and 2. The festivity is a religious and cultural revival to commemorate the Christianization of the Itawes region of Cagayan. Activities include novenas, beauty pageant, sports tournaments, Lakbay Yaman Industry Tours, street dancing and the famous cultural presentations by indigenous groups. Thousands of pilgrims and devotees are expected to flock to the Basilica to participate in the festivities and the activities lined up in the week-long event. The highlight of the festival is the fluvial procession venerating the holy image of the Our Lady of Piat which starts from Aparri at the mouth of the Cagayan River to Buntun Bridge in Tuguegarao City and proceeds through a motorcade to Piat. The procession which has become a tradition among the Cagayanons, started by Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan.
- History, Basilica of Piat Official Website, retrieved October 10, 2011
- Manila Bulletin: Our Lady of Piat, retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Piat, retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Feast of Our Lady of Piat, retrieved October 10, 2011
- Our Lady of Piat, Manila Bulletin, retrieved December 9, 2011
- Philippine Daily Inquirer, retrieved October 10, 2011
- Department of Tourism: The Sambali Festival http://www.tourism.gov.ph/sitepages/FestivitiesList.aspx?festivityCode=367&monthCode=06 retrieved December 9, 2011.
- Manila Bulletin: Sambali Festival http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/manila-bulletin/mi_7968/is_2005_June_30/cagayan-region-celebrates-17th-sambali/ai_n34048011/ Retrieved December 9, 2011.
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