Our Lady of Salvation

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Our Lady of Salvation
Nuestra Señora de Salvación de Joroan
Location Joroan, Tiwi, Albay
Date 1775
Type Wooden statue
Holy See approval Pope Paul VI
Shrine Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Salvation, Joroan

Our Lady of Salvation (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Salvación), also known as Our Lady of Light, is a special title attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Co-Redemptrix of mankind. The Marian devotion to the Lady of Salvation is based on a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin originally from the small town of Joroan in Tiwi, Albay. On August 25, 1976, the image was canonically crowned by the Roman Catholic Church as the heavenly patroness of the province of Albay, Philippines.[1][2]

The original image of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Lady of Salvation is in itself full of symbolism that reflects her role, according to Catholic doctrine, as Co-Redemptrix. In the original 18th Century image, the Virgin Mary is portrayed as carrying the Child Jesus in her left arm. Her right arm on the other hand is gestured as depicting her saving power by holding in his wrist a man[note 1] who is about to fall to the devouring head of the devil. An angel is also portrayed as kneeling at the foot of the Blessed Virgin and can be seen as offering to the Child Jesus a basket full of burning hearts. The Child Jesus is also holding in his right hand a burning heart while his left hand is stretched out in the act of accepting the hearts offered by the angel.[3]


The original image of Our Lady of Salvation

Much of the history regarding the statue of the Lady of Salvation and the Marian devotion centered on it rely heavily on the written accounts, based on existing traditions, of the first parish priest of Joroan, Fr. Lamberto S. Fulay (1919–1935), in his booklet "An Kasaysayan Kan Ladawan Ni Birhen de Salvacion".[1]

The Calpi Tree[edit]

According to the written accounts of Fulay, In the 1770s, a certain haciendero named Don Silverio Arcilla assigned a tenant called Mariano Dacoba in one of his vast estates in Joroan (formerly known as Cagnipa). On a certain day, while the tenant was clearing parts of the hacienda, he chopped off a big Calpi tree. Although already severed in the base for a period of time, the leaves did not wilt and maintained its life and freshness. The tenant informed Don Arcilla about it, and the latter consulted with the Friar Pastor of Buhi.[4][5][note 2]

In Buhi, a certain sculptor by the name of Bagacumba was commissioned by the Friar Pastor to have an image carved from the Calpi trunk found by Don Arcilla's tenant. A total of three images were produced: the Our Lady of salvation, the Our Lady of Solitude, and St. Anthony of Padua.[note 3] On August 25, 1776, the image of the Lady of Salvation was lent to Joroan with the condition that the residents construct a chapel at the center of the barrio. Consequently, a certain Sotera Cababag was assigned as the chapel's Hermana Mayor who will take care of the image.[4]

The 1853 agreement[edit]

The huge Calpi tree was found in Joroan, but the owner of the land, Don Arcilla, was a native of Buhi. Moreover, the Calpi trunk was given by Don Arcilla to the parsh priest of Buhi, who in turn commissioned a sculptor, who is also from Buhi, to carve the image of the Lady of Salvation from it. Thus, Buhi is the rightful owner of the image. However, on January 21, 1853, an agreement between Buhi and Joroan will permanently cement Joroan's claim to the image. Representing Buhi were its parish priest, Fray Antonio Guadalajara and its Gobernadorcillo, Mariano Buenaflor; while the barrio lieutenants of Joroan represented their people. In accordance with the agreement, Buhi will give up all its rights in the image if the people of Joroan made an offering of fifty pesos, and an additional twenty-five pesos for the bell.[6]


Joroan, according to Fulay, was a common target of Muslim marauders due to its proximity to the sea. In an event of an attack, the residents of the barrio would flock to the image of the Lady of Salvation and offer their prayers to the Blessed Virgin for protection. It is said that every time the Muslims attacked Joroan and attempted to burn their houses, the torch would not ignite. This phenomenon, according to tradition, is considered as the first wonder attributed to the Blessed Virgin.[4][note 4]

Miracle of Hermana Tiray[edit]

The second miracle is when a Hermana Mayor named Tiray was captured by the Muslims in one of their raids. On a certain day, after one year of being held captive by the raiders in Sulu, she fell into a deep sleep and upon waking up, she realized that she was no longer in her quarters but instead she was now standing in an unknown forest where she saw a peculiar white deer. Out of curiosity, she followed it through the mountains but soon lost track of it. Tiray would later find out that she had already been miraculously transported in Legazpi. She was now only 38 km away from Joroan. After this incident, the people of Joroan transferred the chapel further away from the sea to a higher plane in the mountains to avoid another desecration in an event of another Muslim raid.[4]

Marian apparition[edit]

The Beaches of Joroan, where Muslim raiders mount their attacks, was also, according to tradition, the site of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin

The third miracle was an apparition of the Blessed Virgin in the likeness of the Lady of Salvation. On a certain occasion, four devotees from Catanduanes went on a pilgrimage to Joroan. They brought along with them a set of candles made of beeswax which they intend to offer to the Lady of Salvation in Joroan. Upon reaching the shore, three of them decided to detour to Buhi and light candles for St. Anthony, while the other was left to guard the boat. While the man who was left behind was promenading at the shores, a woman carrying a child approached him, and asked from him a candle so that she can light her way to her house in the mountains since it was already getting dark. The man refused since the candle was not his. The lady on the other hand insisted and promised that she would return the candle in the morning if he would come to her house uphill. Out of generosity, the man gave in to the lady's favour and was told that he can inquire from the town lieutenant of Joroan where she lived the next day so that she can return to him the candle. On the next day, the man went to the town and asked about the mysterious lady who lived in the mountains. The lieutenant was not knowledgeable about the certain mysterious lady he was describing so he referred him instead to the Hermana Mayor. The Hermana was also of no help in his search, but advised him instead to visit the chapel of Our Lady of Salvation for him to seek guidance in his search. Upon arrival at the chapel, he was surprised when he saw the exact candle which he had previously given to the mysterious lady on the foot of the image unlighted and unused. What was more surprising was when he realized that the image looked like the woman whom he was looking for. At that moment, he was filled with compunction and did not dare get the candles anymore. He prostrated himself in front of the image, and asked from the Blessed Virgin to pray for his sins.[7]

The Last Muslim raid[edit]

A 19th Century illustration of a Muslim Pirate

The fourth phenomenon attributed to the Lady of Salvation was during the years of a certain Hermana named Dominga de los Reyes, the successor of Tiray. The Muslims, while in one of their raids, retracted almost immediately after having a vision of an army of heavily armed men. According to tradition, the vision terrified them so much that that raid was considered as the last Muslim attack on the shores of Joroan.[8][note 5]

Miracle of the Boat[edit]

In 1884, in the eve of the fiesta of the Lady of Salvation, a group of people from Partido was sailing to Joroan when a whirlwind attacked the boat. Giant waves swallowed them and they were almost outbalanced. As they were expecting their deaths, the boat suddenly recovered its balance. What was very strange was that, even though they were almost dumped into the sea, their clothes were completely dry as if freshly ironed. The people in the boat attributed the miracle to the Lady of Salvation.[9]

Boundary disputes[edit]

During the late 19th Century, a territorial dispute arose between the provinces of Ambos Camarines and Albay. The case centred on issue of whether Joroan belonged to Buhi of Ambos Camarines, or to Tiwi of Albay. The argument of Captain Vera of Albay however, was based on Joroan’s proximity to Tiwi. Vera won the case thus, Joroan was annexed by Tiwi, Albay.[10]

Construction of a New Church[edit]

During the 1860s, Joroan became very peaceful. The boundary disputes are gone, and the Muslims no longer attacked the barrio. During this time Doña Clara de Vera, the wife of a certain Don Vicente de Vera,[note 6] became the next Hermana Mayor. Doña de Vera vowed to take care of the image for the rest of her life and even had the image covered with silver and gold plating.[3][11]

Doña de Vera was not satisfied with her lifetime services so she initiated the building of a new church at the center of the barrio. In her eagerness to construct, she sought the help of her friend, Doña Saturnina de Bayot of Tabaco, to become a benefactor in the project. Another acquaintance, Don Manuel Casa of Manila, also contributed greatly in the construction. He sent needed materials and an Architect to Joroan to help Doña de Vera. But in the long trip from Manila to Joroan, the Architect became very ill. Men had to support him when supervising the construction. Nevertheless, after a great deal of pain, he was suddenly cured on the ninth day of work as if he had never been ill. After the church was finished, the image was carried from the mountains to the new shrine. It was at this time that the image of the Lady of Salvation started her annual journey to Tiwi.[11]

Disputes with Tiwi[edit]

The Church in Tiwi where the Lady of Salvation stayed from 1895-1919

The Traslacion[edit]

The people of Tiwi were also ardent devotees of the Lady of Salvation. Tradition gives account that whenever the fiesta in Tiwi was approaching, the parish priest would personally get the image from Joroan. This practice is also called as a Traslacion.[note 7] The arrival of the image to the town of Tiwi was a moment of great rejoicing, and a musical band would usually greet the image.[12][note 8]

However, this practice was short lived by the typhoon that devastated Joroan in 1895. The Chapel was completely destroyed but the image was miraculously still standing in its pedestal unharmed. From the debris, the people of Joroan reconstructed half of the chapel. But later on, everything deteriorated. The long rift of bitterness between the people of Joroan and Tiwi started and since Joroan was under the jurisdiction of Tiwi, Fr. Francisco Borondia took the image to Tiwi until a proper chapel is built in Joroan.[12]

Meanwhile, the traslacion is reversed and it was now the people of Joroan who would borrow the image during fiestas. The people of Joroan greatly resented the idea. They almost lost their right to it; that is why they had to spend a lot of time, effort, and money to recover it, and had to inevitably incur so much displeasure from the people of Tiwi.[12]

Disputes with Ricardo Sayson[edit]

In 1917, Joroan planned to celebrate a grand celebration from the beginning of the Novena up to a few days after the fiesta. On the ninth day, the people of Joroan requested to the parish priest of Tiwi, Fr. Ricardo Sayson, that the image be allowed to stay a little longer in Joroan so that they can make further homage to the Blessed Virgin. However, Sayson refused to do so and, in a display of arrogance, even taunted the people and dared them to file a complaint at court.[13]

The people of Joroan drafted a letter to Bishop John B. McGinley of Nueva Caceres requesting for a pastor to be designated in Joroan. Pedro Colar I and Lino Clutario were tasked as messengers and immediately set out for Naga, but had to come back because the Bishop, as it turned out, was visiting Albay. They overtook the Bishop in Iriga but the Bishop refused to discuss the matter in Iriga, and suggested instead that they talk about it in Malinao on November 17, 1917. During the appointed date, Joroan sent Miguel Diolata, Felipe Clutario, Lorenzo Clutario, and Lino Clutario.[13][note 9]

Lino Clutario was the spokesman since he had the best command of English among the four. He told the Bishop that they were there to request a priest to be designated in their barrio, and an order returning the image of the Lady of Salvation back to Joroan. The Bishop did not grant the first request due to lack of priests in the Diocese, but contemplated on the second with the order of the verification of the origin of the image. Another meeting was set for November 19, 1917 with Tiwi as the venue, but nothing favourable for the people of Joroan resulted from the conference. The issue was brought to court. Spearheaded the case of the real owner of the image of the Lady of Salvation was Narcisso Cultivo, with Domingo Imperial as lawyer. However, the Civil Court saw this as religious in nature and soon dropped it and endorsed it instead to Bishop Mcginley in Nueva Caceres.[13]

Creation of a new parish[edit]

In 1918, Fr. Sayson was succeeded by Fr. Tomas Bernales as Pastor of Tiwi. Bishop McGinley authorized him to settle the dispute with joroan and, in May of that same year, Councilor Alfajara and Lieutenant Cultivo of Joroan met with Bernales. An agreement was arrived, and Joroan was designated to become a separate parish; its jurisdiction will cover Sogod, Matalibong, Bariis, Maynonong, Misibis, Dapdap, and Mayong. Bishop McGinley is informed about the agreement, and named Fr. Lamberto S. Fulay as its very first parish priest. In September 18, 1919 the parish of Joroan is officially erected, and on the 8th of October, Fulay assumed his new post as Pastor of Joroan.[13]

When Fulay became Pastor of Joroan, the image of the Lady of Salvation was still in Tiwi so, in accordance with the 1918 agreement, a “Solemn Transfer” or a Traslacion was scheduled on November 20, 1919. Joroan for the time being, had no proper paraphernalia so Bernales lent them some of his things. Donations now began to pour in from all over Albay to the newly established parish.[14]

When the image docked at the shores of Joroan, a fireworks display greeted it and there was a great amount of jubilation from the people. Early the next morning, a solemn high mass was celebrated and a huge number of pilgrims from all over the Bicol region were in attendance. Several important personages were also present during the celebrations. Among them are: the Vicar Forane; the Pastors of Tiwi, Tabaco, and Nabua; the Governor of Albay; the board members of the Provincial Government; the Municipal President; the Municipal Council; and other prominent people.[14]

The Episcopal Decree of 1919[edit]

Bishop John Bernard McGinley

Among the terms of agreement made when Joroan was raised to the status was the Episcopal Decree “Constandoonos” of 18 September 1919. The decree states that “except for a space of fifteen consecutive days, the image can stay in the church of Tiwi under the disposition of its parish priest for the due cult of the faithful. It is ordained that the annual transfer and conduction to Tiwi be made with proper decorum and solemnity”[note 10] Although already a parish by now, Joroan still had a lot of insecurities. The 1919 Episcopal Decree was not a guarantee that the image was now fully in their possession, so a committee was organized in Joroan with the purpose of appealing to Bishop McGinley the revision and striking out of the clause “except for a span of fifteen days”. However, the Bishop rejected the request by further stating that the Decree is part of the terms of agreement for the raising of Joroan to the status of a parish, and that their representatives signed it.[15]

Rising tensions[edit]

In 1920, Joroan was reminded to comply with the Decree. The people however, were still adamant for fear that something unfavourable might happen and majority of the people, especially the women, no longer favoured the idea of lending the image of the Lady of Salvation to Tiwi. This prompted Bishop McGinley to dispatch to Joroan Fr. Luis Dimaruba, a priest vested with ecclesiastical authority, to advise the people regarding the insolence they portrayed, and to persuade them about the urgency of lending the image to Tiwi since the fiesta was approaching. However, it was only after the encouragement and assurance of the image’s return by their parish priest that led the people to reluctantly allow Tiwi to borrow the image.[15]

In August 6, 1920, many people, with Bernales leading them, arrived in Joroan to get the image. Before the image was taken, Bernales reassured the people that the image shall be returned after fifteen days. The absence of the image in the altar of their church made the people of Joroan so anxious that they never lost track of the fifteen-day promise. However, realizing that Tiwi had not yet returned the image even though the fifteen-day agreement had already expired, the people dispatched a big boat to Tiwi so that they could remind Bernales that the agreement had already expired and also to personally get the image.[15]

The August riot[edit]

When Fulay greeted Bernales, the later was compelled to return the image. A huge number of people from Tiwi were present in the church to bid farewell to the image. However, when the image was about to be handed over to Fulay, one of the onlookers screamed and took the image from Bernales. The visitors from Joroan cried foul and a rioting ensued.[15]

The message was clear: the people of Tiwi refused to give back the image by violently declaring that the image was theirs. This claim is backed by the alleged testimony of the elders of Tiwi that the image in question was just a copy of the original: the copy belonged to Tiwi, while the original was Joroan’s. Word of mouth has it that in those days there was an antique image of the Lady of Salvation. The elders testify that in their earliest years, the image’s Hermana Mayor was a certain Mitay. When it was still in a good condition it used to be brought down the chapel whenever the image was in Tiwi, but that this has already been broken and eaten up by age. The people of Joroan abandoned it, and that the title Our Lady of Salvation which the present image now bears originated from this antique image.[15]

Final settlement[edit]

Fulay, seeing that the brawl would do no good, advised his parishioners to go home instead. He then wrote a letter to Bishop McGinley about the heightened tension between the peoples of Joroan and Tiwi. In response, the bishop reassured Joroan that the image will be returned to them. Owing to the previous rioting, the image was kept in the house of Vicente Vera for more than a month, and it was only on the 28th of September of that year that the image was returned to Joroan.[15]

In order that future tensions will not ensue, Bishop McGinley in August 18, 1920 effectively removed the clause “except for a space of fifteen consecutive days and declared that: “We suppress and cancel by this presents (the clause “fifteen consecutive days”) and confirm the rest of the said Decree reserving to us. However, the right to take measure we deem necessary to avoid or suppress abuses which may crop up in the cult of the image, and to vindicate our exclusive right over the image in reference”.[note 11][15]

To keep the ardour of the same Marian devotion in Tiwi and to prevent future tensions, Bishop McGinley permitted the creation of a replica for Tiwi, and since 1920, the original image stayed permanently in its old see.[15]

Later years[edit]


On December 8, 1975, Bishop Teotimo Pacis of the Diocese of Legazpi formally declared the Virgin Mary with the title of Our Lady of Salvation as the heavenly patroness of Albay. In 1976, the Diocese formally celebrated the Bicentennial Jubilee of its patroness. One of the projects during the Bicentennial was the completion of the shrine. The original design of the shrine was the handiwork of Juanito Pelea of Tiwi, but was later redesigned and finished under the supervision of Fidel Siappo of Legaspi City. After its completion, Bishop Pacis blessed the shrine on August 21, 1976.[2][3]

In August 25 of the that same year, as a culmination to the Bicentennial year, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila crowned the Lady of Salvation while the shrine in Joroan was proclaimed as a Diocesan shrine[2][3]


Every year, during the month of August until September, devotees from all over the Bicol Region visit the shrine of the Lady of Salvation in Joroan. The last Saturday of August is traditionally reserved as a special day of veneration wherein pilgrims would walk in a procession for 9 km from the St. Lawrence Church of Tiwi to the Diocesan Shrine in Joroan.[16][17]


Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Our Lady of Salvation
Nuestra Señora de Salvación
Original image of Our Lady of Salvation 
Stained Glass image of Our Lady of Salvation at the Church of Joroan 
Painting of Our Lady of Salvation at the Joroan Parish Convent 
Stone statue of Our Lady of Salvation outside the Church of Joroan 



  1. ^ The man portrayed in the original image as being saved from the devil is usually misinterpreted as a child
  2. ^ Joroan was under the jurisdiction of Buhi during the Spanish colonial period
  3. ^ The statues of Our Lady of Salvation, Our Lady of Solitude, and St. Anthony of Padua were given to the barrios of Joroan, Buhi, and Tambo respectively
  4. ^ According to Fulay, the exact period of the phenomenon of the torch is unknown, although he suggests that it was sometime during the reign of Manuel Grivaljo as Bishop of the See of Nueva Caceres (1748-1761)
  5. ^ It can be said that the vision was just a means of scaring the Muslim raiders; no actual army was ever recorded to have been on that occasion, hence an illusion
  6. ^ Don Vicente de Vera was known in Joroan as a wealthy landlord
  7. ^ Traslacion can be generally defined as a Spanish term for an action and effect of moving from place to someone or something
  8. ^ Transportation from Joroan to Tiwi was either by land or by sea. However, a 9km land travel was very difficult during that time due to the lack of proper roads leading to Joroan, so travel by sea was more convenient
  9. ^ Felipe and Lorenzo Clutario are brothers
  10. ^ Original Spanish Text: "Menos que por el espacio de quince dias continuos cada ano pueda estar (la imagen) en la iglesia de Tiwi, bajo instruccion del Parroco de Tiwi, para el debido culto de los pieles. Y se ordena que la transferancia y conduccion annual a Tiwi sean hechos con todo decoro y solemnidad convenientes" (Libro de Ordenes N.I., Tiwi, Cir N. 180, p. 16)
  11. ^ Original Spanish Text: "Suprimimos y cancelamos por el presente y confirmamus el resto de dicho decreto, reservandonos sin embargo el derecho de tomar quantas medidas juzgaremos necesarias para evitar o suprimir abusos que pudieran surgir en el culto de la imagen y para vindicar nuestra exclusive propidad en la imagen de referencia" (Libro de Ordenes, no. 1, Tiwi, p 44)


  1. ^ a b de Leon (1988). p I. Introduction.
  2. ^ a b c de Leon (1988) p III
  3. ^ a b c d Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Salvation shrines.healthypinoy.com accessed May 24, 2012
  4. ^ a b c d de Leon (1988). pp 2-3.
  5. ^ Nuestra Señora de Salvación and Joroan Albay Tourism Website accessed May 25, 2012
  6. ^ de Leon (1988). pp 3-4.
  7. ^ de Leon (1988). pp 4-5.
  8. ^ de Leon (1988). p 5.
  9. ^ de Leon (1988). p 7.
  10. ^ de Leon (1988). p 6.
  11. ^ a b de Leon (1988). pp 6-7.
  12. ^ a b c de Leon (1988). p 8.
  13. ^ a b c d de Leon (1988). pp 9-11.
  14. ^ a b de Leon (1988). pp 12-15.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h de Leon (1988) pp. 16-20
  16. ^ Barcelona (2004) Ynang Maria: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines.
  17. ^ Pilgrimage to Joroan aboutph.com accessed May 25, 2012


  • de Leon, Lorenzo. History of the Image of Our Lady of Salvation. Legazpi City, 1988
  • Barcelona, Mary Anne. Ynang Maria: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines. Edited by Consuelo B. Estepa, Ph.D. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc, 2004.