The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/39 – Our Lady of La Naval de Manila

Throughout the years 1565 to 1606, Spain successfully converted the Philippine Archipelago to Catholicism. This enterprise occurred in just forty years, without the need of persecutions, repression or the suppression of sanguinary revolts. ‘Our Lady of La Naval’ is the Patroness of Quezon City; this Image is kept at the Dominican monastery. Certain historical sources postulate that during the year 1630 circa, the Image was washed upon the shores of Manila Bay, other sources state that the Statue was commissioned by the Spanish Governor, General Luis Perez Dasmarinas. A pagan Chinese sculptor commissioned to fashion the Image, later was converted to the Faith through Our Lady’s intercession. The Statue of Our Lady and Child was named ‘Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila.’ in the phrase ‘Our Lady of La Naval de Manila,’ the words ‘La Naval’ mean, ‘Our Lady helper of Catholic Navies.’ In the 1600s, the Protestant Dutch and English, set their eyes and hopes upon gaining Spanish Catholic Philippines. They intended to subjugate the Catholic Archipelago to their governments and following the necessary preparations, set sail to conquer the Filipino Islands. In 1646, five naval battles were fought, the result ensured that the Philippine Islands would remain a Catholic Archipelago. Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila, two Filipino cargo ships armed with custom adjusted guns, defeated fifteen Dutch warships. Before every battle the crews, consisting of Spanish and Filipinos, sought with prayers of supplication the intercessory aid of Our Lady. Following the battles in 1662, the Ecclesiastical Council in Cavite, declared the five naval battles as miraculous victories brought about by Our Lord through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the devotion to the Holy Rosary. The remembrance of Our Lady’s intercession and testimony of protection during battle, was kept for the greater devotion to the most Blessed Mother of God and her Holy Rosary.

On March 15, 1646, the Dutch Protestant flotilla appeared at the port of Manila. The Spanish and the Filipino people accomplished all in their power, to equip two cargo ships called the ‘Incarnation’ and the ‘Rosary’ with the few arms and cannon they had at their disposal. Father Jean de Conca O.P. had the sailors recite the Rosary in alternating choruses upon the bridges of the two ships. The conflicts occurred between March and October. Initial encounters with the Dutch proved that the foe was well armed and numerically superior. During one instance the Filipino cargo vessels were trapped in a narrow strait while seven Dutch ships were approaching. The crew vowed to Our Lady, that they would perform a pilgrimage barefoot to the Image of Our Lady at the Dominican Church, if their lives were spared. Surprisingly the foe sailed past, a beautiful sunset must have prevented the Dutch from discovering the Filipino ‘armada.’ The vessels exited the creek and chased the Dutch flotilla, a first encounter ensued which lasted till sunrise when the Dutch retreated. On returning to the Manila port the crew fulfilled their vow and went on pilgrimage to the monastery. The two cargo ships were now referred to as ‘the galleons of the miracle.’

The following four battles resulted in successive victories for the Catholics. The fifth encounter proved to be the last. The Dutch ships found their enemy cargo vessels anchored at port, with the added disadvantage of having the wind against them. The Catholics fought from their anchored positions and pummeled their enemy mercilessly, the enemy was defeated and fled away. Following the defeat of the Protestant ships, a voice was heard in the heavens saying: “Long live the Faith of Christ and the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary.”(1) The Spanish and the Filipino forces lost only 15 men out of a total of 200 sailors. His Holiness Pope Pius XII, referred to the Philippines as: “…the Kingdom of the Holy Rosary,”(2) the devotion to this prayer was greatly increased through the miracles wrought by Our Lady and the confidence the Pontiff showed in this people. In 1906, the Apostolic Legate crowned the Holy Image of La Naval.

During the Second World War, the Shrine of Santo Domingo in Manila was shelled, however, La Naval was kept safely in the Church’s vault and transferred to a chapel. In 1952, the shrine was rebuilt and the Image was once again placed within the Church of Saint Dominic. The Feast in Manila is at present celebrated yearly, the miraculous Statue of Our Lady of the Rosary, is carried in the streets followed by twenty-one decorated floats, all representing Dominican Saints. Crowds of up to, 200,000 people accompany this procession and at the end of the ceremony, the entire Philippine Archipelago, is consecrated to the Blessed Virgin. The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, is universally held on October 7. In Manila it is celebrated on the second Sunday of October.

In 1973, La Naval was made Patroness of the capital city of the Philippines. In the eighties the government of Marcos refused to yield to democratic elections, this caused widespread peaceful protests by the people. In February 25, 1986, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manilla, invited the people to arm themselves with rosary beads, icons and flowers. Armed with these spiritual sacramentals, the people carried out a peaceful procession in the streets. The Filipino Dominicans held a replica of the Image of La Naval; nightly vigils took place outside the gates of the presidential palace. Peace was being sought and was the reason for the non-violent processions. To the surprise of the people, the government sent tanks to quash the Rosary armed protesters. As the tanks rolled in many of the civilians were lying prostrate on the ground and waved their Holy Rosaries. Marcos gave the army the order to open fire on the people. The soldiers were about to carry his ruthless orders, however in the year 1986, Marcos’ Loyalist Militia witnessed an age old phenomenon, similar in nature to all the ancient supernatural miracles mentioned in this book.

Marcos’Loyalists rode on the tanks and were preparing to pull the trigger of their sub machine guns and riddle the Faithful with their bullets. In an instant the loyalists witnessed a cross in the sky and Our Lady the Blessed Virgin appeared before their tanks, she was dressed in blue. The soldiers and the Faithful remained dumbstruck, many civilians actually believed that this young lady was an ordinary nun. This nun was not of this earth however, for she had eyes that sparkled and was a beautiful heavenly radiant nun. She appeared right before the tanks and said to the soldiers: “Dear soldiers, stop! Do not proceed! Do not harm my children!”(3) Marcos’ Loyalists descended from their tanks; they placed their weapons aside on the ground and joined the Faithful. The soldiers repented of their sins and visited Cardinal Sin, who accepted their confession and enjoyed hearing them retell the manner in which this beautiful nun appeared. Marcos lost all support and had to flee. Later Cardinal Sin met with the last surviving visionary of Fatima in Portugal, Sister Lucia. She assured the Cardinal that the Philippines would be a catalyst for the conversion of China.



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