Vatican gives special status to Batangas shrineBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Devotees making a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay in the historic town of Taal in Batangas will now be able to receive the same plenary indulgence granted to pilgrims who visit the ancient basilica of St. Mary Major (Sta. Maria Maggiore) in Rome.
According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Vatican has issued a decree signed by Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, archpriest emeritus of St. Mary Major, granting the Caysasay Shrine the same special privilege attached to the Roman basilica.
Pilgrims who visit and pray at the Shrine will receive plenary indulgence provided they fulfill the prescribed conditions of going to confession, participating in a Mass and praying for the intention of the Holy Father. A plenary indulgence is a complete remission of all temporal punishment due to sin.
The CBCP quoted Fr. Nonie Dolor, the Lipa Archdiocese media director, saying that the Vatican’s pronouncement was “very timely” as the archdiocese was preparing for the grand celebration of its 40th anniversary.
Dolor said a Mass of Declaration to be presided by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles will be celebrated at the Shrine on June 3 to formally announce to the public the special privilege granted by the Vatican.
The ceremonies will include the reading of the decree and placing the original Latin text and its translation as a marker at the Shrine’s entrance, according to Shrine rector Fr. Jose Maria Loyola Cumagun.
On Saturdays, the day set for devotion to the Our Lady of Caysasay, the otherwise sleepy shrine becomes vibrant when pilgrims flock to the place to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin.
The Marian icon was said to have been found by a local fisherman at the Pansipit River, according to a local legend.
The people had the Marian image enshrined at Labac where devotees flock every Saturday to pay homage.
Miracles attributed to the image attracted many devotees to make annual pilgrimages to the Shrine, especially Chinese Catholics.
Last year, a similar declaration was granted by the Vatican to the shrine of the Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan.
The St. Mary Major basilica is one of the Catholic major basilicas that formed traditional Seven Pilgim Churches of Rome.
The basilica was one of the first built in honor of the Blessed Virgin to highlight her being declared as Mother of God by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. The basilica hosts pieces of wood said to have come from the Nativity crib.