Our Lady of La Naval de Manila

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Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of
La Naval de Manila
Our Lady of La Naval de Manila.jpg
Location Quezon City, Philippines
Date 1593 - 1596
Type Ivory, wood statue
Holy See approval 5 October 1907 by Pope Pius X
Shrine National Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Santo Domingo Church, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Patronage Philippine Navy
Quezon City

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila (Spanish: Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila; Tagalog: Mahal na Ina ng Santo Rosaryo ng La Naval de Manila; colloquially known as Santo Rosario or Our Lady of La Naval de Manila), is both a title and an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in the Philippines. As with the Battle of Lepanto of 1571, Filipinos credit her intercession for successfully repulsing the Protestant Dutch invasion during the Battles of La Naval de Manila. Pious believers also credit the venerated image as the turning point for the country to remain as a bastion of Catholicism, famously claiming the victory of the country as "Pueblo Amante de Maria" or the beloved land of the Virgin Mary.

The image has been venerated by various Pontiffs, most notably by Pope Pius X, who granted the image a Canonical Coronation on 5 October 1907. In 2009, the Philippine government designated the image and its shrine as National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines making it one of the country's Cultural Properties.


The statue enthroned.

Measuring at approximately 4' feet and 8" inches, the body is made of hardwood in the cage "Bastidor" type style while the face and hands, as well as the entire Child Jesus in its arms, are made of genuine ivory. Since its creation, the statue – considered the oldest dated ivory carving in the Philippines – has always been decorated with elaborate garments and a crown.[1]

Some 310,000 individuals led by the professors of the University of Santo Tomas, donated their heirloom jewels, precious gems, gold and silver to the image for the Canonical Coronation of October 1907. These form part of the image's large collection of elaborate regalia, some of which date to the 1700s.[2]

Pontifical approbations[edit]

The statue has merited several papal honours, namely the following:

  • In an undated 1903 letter to the Archbishop of Manila, the "Rosary" Pope Leo XIII issued an exhortation for people to come in pilgrimage to the Virgin's shrine in Santo Domingo Church (then in Intramuros).

"...Go to the temple of Santo Domingo, to the sanctuary of the excellence of the Most Holy Virgin of the Rosary in the Philippines, to the place where your elders bent their knees to give thanks to her who liberated these Islands from Protestant heresy, to the spot consecrated by the piety of one hundred generations who had gone there to deposit their piety and confidence in Mary most holy...
Leone XIII, P.P. "

  • Pope Pius X granted the image a Canonical Coronation through Archbishop Dom Ambrose Agius of Malta on 5 October 1907.
  • Pope Pius XII also sent her an Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of the Battle of La Naval de Manila on 31 July 1946.
  • Pope Paul VI proclaimed her Patroness of Quezon City on 13 October 1973.
  • Pope John Paul II dedicated the Asian continent to the same title under a proxy replica image bearing the similar title on 18 February 1981. The Pontiff blessed the original image the next day in another public Mass, 19 February 1981.


Procession before the enthronement of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval

In 1593, the new Spanish Governor-General Don Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, commissioned a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary for public veneration in memory of his recently deceased father. Under the direction of Captain Hernando de los Rios Coronel, the sculpture was made by an anonymous Chinese immigrant, who later converted to Christianity; this is the commonly cited reason for the statue's Asian features. The statue was later given to the Dominican friars, who installed it at the Santo Domingo Church.

In 1646, naval forces of the Dutch Republic made several repeated attempts to conquer the Philippines in a bid to control trade in Asia. The combined Spanish and Filipino forces who fought were said to have requested the intercession of the Virgin through the statue prior to battle. They were urged to place themselves under the protection of Our Lady of the Rosary and to pray the rosary repeatedly. They went on to rebuff the continued attacks by the superior Dutch fleet, engaging in five major battles at sea and losing only fifteen members of the Spanish Navy. After the Dutch retreat, in fulfillment of their vow, the survivors walked barefoot to the shrine in gratitude to the Virgin.

Later, on 9 April 1662, the cathedral chapter of the Archdiocese of Manila declared the naval victory a miraculous event owed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, declaring:

Pope Pius X authorized granting the statue a canonical crown in 1906, which was bestowed by the Apostolic Delegate to the Philippines, The Most Rev. Ambrose Agius, O.S.B.. During the Japanese bombardment in 1942, fearing that the statue would be destroyed, church authorities hid the statue at the University of Santo Tomas until 1946, the 300th anniversary of the battles.

The statue was transferred in October 1954 to a new shrine built to house it inside the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City–the sixth Santo Domingo Church since its erection in the late sixteenth century. For this journey, devotees constructed a boat-shaped carriage (Spanish: Carroza Triunfal) to carry the image to its new home, which was declared her National Shrine by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.[4] In October 1973, La Naval was formally declared the patroness of Quezon City, at that time the national capital. Filipino Archbishop Mariano Gaviola declared her Patroness of the Philippine Navy in 1975, a patronage invoked until this day.

During the People Power Revolution of February 1986, a replica of the statue was brought in procession to the Malacañan Palace by the Dominican friars, in a peaceful protest of the state of martial law instituted by President Ferdinand Marcos. The replica was also brought to the eastern gate of Camp Crame, the police headquarters where the rebel forces headed by Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos were confined during the uprising. Many Filipino Catholics attribute the revolution's peaceful victory to the miraculous intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary.[5]

Filipino historian Nick Joaquín attributed one of the red jewels in one of the statue's crowns to an old legend of a giant serpent found in the Pasig River; the local folktale is more likely a metaphor of the triumph of Christianity over paganism.[citation needed] The other crown was supposedly inscribed and donated by King Norodom of Cambodia in 1872, one having disappeared after a burglary in 1930 while another one was simply two pearls adorning the orbs of the statue.

Notable events[edit]

A replica of the image at the 76th Anniversary of the Court of Appeals of the Philippines in 2012.

The funeral service of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was held in the image's shrine after his assassination in August 1983. Other notable funerals held in the shrine include renowned Filipino actor Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004 and Doña María Ejercito, the mother of former President Joseph Estrada in 2009.

Journalist and television personality Korina Sanchez married government secretary Manuel A. Roxas II in a televised Spanish-style wedding in front of the image on 27 October 2009.

In December 2011, the Eternal Word Television Network featured the image as the "Grandest Marian Icon in the Philippines" on an episode of the programme "Mary: Mother of the Philippines".

The image, its church and convent, along with the other objects stored in the complex were declared a "National Cultural Treasure" by the National Museum of the Philippines on 4 October 2012. This declaration is in accordance with Republic Act 10066 ("National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009") announced officially by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and by the National Museum.[6][7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, La Naval de Manila
  2. ^ La Naval de Manila Online: The Story of La Naval
  3. ^ Shrine
  4. ^ Shrine
  5. ^ La Naval Online
  6. ^ CBCP: Sto Domingo church to be named 'national treasure' Oct 4, GMA News.
  7. ^ Sto. Domingo Church to be declared national treasure, CBCP News.
  8. ^ In photograph: Joy Belmonte (Quezon City Vice Mayor), Rep. Vicente Crisologo, Jeremy Barns, CESO III, Director IV [1], National Museum of the Philippines, Senator Edgardo Javier Angara, Rev. Fr. Giuseppe Pietro V. Arsciwals, O.P., Rector [2], and Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.
  9. ^ [3] (10th)
  10. ^ CBCP: Sto Domingo church to be named 'national treasure' Oct 4, GMA News.
  11. ^ Sto. Domingo Church to be declared national treasure, CBCP News.

External links[edit]