By Christina Hermoso and Leslie Ann Aquino
A huge gathering of Marian devotees is expected today for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first image of the revered Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the country.
The “Salubong” begins at 5 a.m. with a fluvial procession at the Manila Bay. It will be followed by a Holy Mass to be presided by His Eminence Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle at the Quirino Grandstand. The “Traslacion” will follow the Eucharistic celebration and will go to the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian in Quiapo, Manila, where the image will be ceremonially re-enthroned.
The activities will relive the arrival of the first image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel from Mexico in 1618 with the third mission of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) as a gift from the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Acapulco.
“With the ‘Salubong at Traslacion,’ we hope to strengthen the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, drawing strength from her and from each other’s presence. Let us take this occasion to pray for healing and reconciliation in our land and to consecrate our country to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Tagle said.
The cardinal said those who will participate in the “Salubong at Traslacion” will gain a plenary indulgence or the remission of temporal punishment due to sins as approved by the Vatican. Attendees will also receive a brown scapular which has been associated with the image.
Key figure in Nazareno feast
Revered by devotees, particularly in Quiapo, Manila, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is a key figure in the annual Nazareno feast, where she appears during the ‘Dungaw,’ awaiting the passing in procession of the Black Nazarene image by the San Sebastian Church. This time, it will be the Black Nazarene’s turn to await her arrival at the church, organizers said.
The sacred image was initially housed at the OAR convent in Bagumbayan (now Luneta) and was enthroned, three years later in 1621, at the first San Sebastian Church in Quiapo.
Devotion to the image became widespread with the growing number of Filipinos wearing the brown scapular which is associated with the image, as well as the growing number of parishes and schools placed under her patronage.
Gathering of bishops
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles has invited his fellow bishops to join the celebration.
“They (Augustinian Recollects) expect that many of us will be gathered for the concelebrated Mass; they think it will be an opportune time to make a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” said Valles in a letter.
“Please consider this invitation to be there at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta on May 4 at 6:30 a.m. for the Solemn Thanksgiving Mass and the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary before the more than 400 years old image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel,” he added.
According to the prelate, the event is also a good opportunity to pray together for the welfare of the country at a time when it is facing several difficulties.
“We urgently need to seek Our Mother’s intercession to protect the Philippines against natural calamities, the ongoing attacks on the sanctity of life and of the family, and other serious difficulties that our nation faces,” said Valles.
MPD sets alternate routes
Meanwhile, some 2,000 policemen will be deployed in strategic areas to ensure the peace and order in the route of the procession, the Manila Police District said.
The MPD has also coordinated with the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), Joint Task Force-NCR, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Manila city government.
The MPD-Traffic Enforcement Unit (MPD-TEU) advised motorists to expect heavy traffic and take alternate routes during the procession.
Authorities advised vehicles coming from North of Manila intending to utilize the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard to turn left to Anda Circle, straight to A. Soriano, right to Magallanes Drive, right to P. Burgos, straight to Lagusnilad, straight to Taft Ave., and then right to T.M. Kalaw Street.
Meanwhile, vehicles coming from South of Manila intending to pass through the northbound lane of Roxas Boulevard shall turn right to T.M. Kalaw, then turn left to Taft Ave. up to the point of destination.
Vehicles coming from Legarda St. going to Quiapo shall turn right to C.M. Recto Avenue to the point of destination.
Vehicles utilizing the northbound lane of Taft Ave. must take UN Avenue as an alternative route. (With a report from Hans Amancio)