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National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, The Baclaran Church, Paranaque, Manila
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National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, The Baclaran Church, Paranaque, Manila


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The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is located at the Baclaran Church in Manila. It is a rather modern Church and technically does not fit into the ‘mold’ of what we consider an Old …

The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is located at the Baclaran Church in Manila. It is a rather modern Church and technically does not fit into the ‘mold’ of what we consider an Old and Historic Church. It was consecrated in 1958. It’s status as a National Shrine merits it consideration in our studies.

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  • 1. 1 © proudly presents:proudly presents: National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help,National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, TheThe BaclaranBaclaran oror RedemptoristRedemptorist Church,Church, BaclaranBaclaran, Manila., Manila. photographed and written byphotographed and written by:: Fergus DucharmeFergus Ducharme,, assisted by:assisted by: JoemarieJoemarie AcallarAcallar andand NiloNilo JimenoJimeno..
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  • 3. 3 © The distance from our jumping off point at the SM City parking lot in Iloilo to the Manila district of Parañaque and the Baclaran or Redemptorist Church is about 600 kilometres. This translates into about 3½ hours by air (including ground transfers).
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  • 5. 5© Now, right at the outset, it is important to remember that this is not, normally, a Church that we would consider an 'Old and Historic Church'. Our normal measuring stick for what we consider "old" is a church that was built or that originated on it's current site prior to 1900. Construction of this Church was actually started in 1953 and it was finally consecrated in 1958.
  • 6. 6© The Story of the Church According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the Shrine and its convent were initially dedicated to Saint Thérèse de Lisieux; a grotto statue of the saint on the shrine grounds honors this patronage (see photo on the next page). The first Redemptorists came to the Philippines in 1906 and set up a community at Opon, Cebu. Irish and Australian Redemptorists came to Manila in the early 1900s. The Redemptorists community went first to Malate in 1913 where they had a small, popular shrine to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. In 1932, the community transferred to Baclaran. Father Denis Grogan, the builder of the Church dedicated it to Sta. Teresita and made her the patroness of the church and convento. However, the Ynchausti family, long-time supporters and friends, donated a high altar that they insisted be a shrine to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. When the church opened the shrine became very popular. The Redemptorist priests replaced the Mother of Perpetual Help icon with a larger version to accommodate the growing number of devotees.
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  • 8. 8© Father Denis Grogan
  • 9. 9© During the Japanese occupation of World War II, the Japanese took over the church and the community was dispersed. Australian and New Zealand priests were interred in the concentration camp at UP Los Baños. The icon was removed from the church and given to a family for safe keeping. The family home was burned and ransacked at the end of the occupation and the icon was lost. It was rediscovered at the Old Bilibid Prison by a De La Salle Brother along with other valuable artifacts that the Japanese had seized. Contrary to popular belief, the Perpetual Novena did not originate in Baclaran but at the Redemptorist Church of St Clement in La Paz, Iloilo in May 1946. After witnessing the devotion of the Ilonggos to the icon, the Redemptorist Gerard O'Donnell introduced the novena to Baclaran. Father Leo English, a linguist, conducted the first Baclaran Novena with 70 participants on Wednesday, June 23, 1948, giving rise Wednesday's local moniker of "Baclaran Day". The present Modern Romanesque church is the third to be built on the same site. It was designed by architect Cesar Concio and took six years to build because most of the money came from small donations (the suggestion from the pulpit was 10 centavos per week would be appropriate) that often ran out requiring construction to stop. The cornerstone stone was laid on January 11, 1953 and on December 1, 1958 the new church was consecrated. The church opened with a mass on December 5, 1958 and has been open 24/7 ever since and this by Papal Decree.
  • 10. 10© Later in the mid to late 1980’s, the Shrine became a refuge for several computer engineers from the Elections Commission during the controversial 1986 National Elections. Thirty technicians who were operating the COMELEC's electronic quick count staged a walkout from their headquarters at the International Convention Centre to protest the electoral fraud perpetrated by supporters of the Dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Ironically, Imelda Marcos, the First Lady was a benefactor of the Shrine, having often brought her children there during Holy as part of their Visita Iglesia devotions. The modern, Romanesque Revival Church has a seating capacity of 2,000, with as many as 9,000 other standees during Masses. Due to the crowds of worshippers each Wednesday, the Novena to the Mother of Perpetual Help is broadcast on large flat-screen television displays placed around the perimeter of the church, enabling more people to participate in the Novena service. Because of this, the Vatican has authorised by Papal Decree that the Church remain perpetually open to accommodate devotees. The Shrine also broadcasts regular Sunday Masses and the Wednesday Novena via UStream. Follow this link to view the regular Sunday Masses or the Wednesday Novena: for the Wednesday Novena: for the Masses: YOU MAY HAVE TO REGISTER WITH USTREAM TO GET THE BEST BENEFIT.
  • 11. 11© Our Lady of Perpetual Help Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we found in the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria in Leon, Iloilo The story of the ICON itself:
  • 12. 12© “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” is the name of a Byzantine icon whose history dates back to the 15th century. It is also a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pope Pius IX. Although the origin of the icon is uncertain, many believe that it was painted by St. Luke and venerated in Constantinople until that Holy City fell in 1453. Since 1886, it has been entrusted to the care of Redemptorist priests in Rome, where it is enshrined in the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori. A parchment attached to the painting tells the story of how it came to Rome.
  • 13. 13© “According to this record, a merchant from the island of Crete heard stories of many miracles that occurred around a fabulous painting on the island. Wanting this power for himself, he stole the painting and packed it away with his other wares. His travels led him, and the stolen picture, to Rome, where he suddenly fell ill. As he lay dying, he told the whole story of the stolen picture to his friend, a Roman, who was caring for him during his illness. His last request was that the Roman take the picture and have it placed in a church where it would help many people. The Roman’s wife, however, put the picture in her bedroom. Mary made her opinion of this situation known by appearing to the Roman in a series of visions. Each time, she asked him to stop hoarding the picture and start sharing it with others. And each time, the Roman ignored her. After being rejected by the adults, Mary visited their six-year-old daughter. The daughter announced that Mary had commanded that the picture be placed in a church between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran – a church called St. Matthew’s. At last, the Roman obeyed, and the picture was placed in the care of the Augustinians on March 27, 1499.
  • 14. 14© It’s hard to understand why Mary would choose such a place to be honoured. St. Matthew’s was a small church in a barren place far from the center of the city. Yet the rich and the poor, the powerful and the lowly alike, traveled the rough stone path to the church to seek comfort from Our Mother of Perpetual Help and to learn from her humility. One man, however, was not impressed. In 1798, Napoleon’s general ordered the destruction of thirty churches when the French invaded Rome. St. Matthew’s was one of them. After the soldiers left, those who loved Mary searched the ruins but could find no trace of the picture. There seemed to be no doubt that their beloved picture had perished with the church. Almost half a century later and miles away, an altar boy named Michael Marchi listened to a sacristan’s tales of the past. The sacristan, named Augustine Orsetti, pointed to a picture of Mary in the chapel and said, “See that picture, Michael? It is old, very old. It used to hang in St. Matthew’s Church, where many people came to pray to the Mother of God.” The painting, he said, had been rescued at the last minute, hidden from the marauding general in a humble cart, and transported secretly to this chapel. “Remember that,” the sacristan told him. Michael Marchi remembered.
  • 15. 15© Years later, Father Michael Marchi, by then a Redemptorist, was in Rome. In 1853, Pope Pius IX commanded the Redemptorists to establish their world headquarters in Rome. After much searching and prayer, the Redemptorists bought a huge estate. When they inspected their new property, they found a house, barns, stables, gardens and the ruins of an old church. Inquiring into the history of the church, the Redemptorists learned that its name was St. Matthew’s, and that it once had housed a miraculous painting, a painting that had been lost. Even as they ruefully shook their heads at the loss of such a treasure, Father Michael stunned his associates by telling them that not only did the picture still exist, but he knew where it was. After three years of prayer, the Redemptorists decided to ask that the picture be brought back to Rome. When they told Pope Pius that it was Mary’s own wish that she be enshrined between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran – where the Church of St. Alphonsus now stood – the Pope immediately commanded the return of the painting. Flowers and banners greeted Our Mother of Perpetual Help on April 26, 1886, and miracles attended her procession – including the cure of a four-year-old boy suffering from a brain illness. After 75 years, Our Mother of Perpetual Help had finally returned home.”
  • 16. 16© Pope Pius IX entrusting the icon to the Redemptorists in 1865
  • 17. 17© The icon shows Our Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. He has run to her, frightened by the vision of two angels holding the instruments of the Passion: the Cross, the spear, and the sponge. In his hurry, he has lost one of His tiny sandals. Mary is holding Him reassuringly in her arms, yet she is not looking at Him. Instead, she is looking at us, a reminder that we should avoid sin and love her Son. Christ’s little hands are pressed into Mary’s. It is a gesture that reminds us that Jesus placed Himself entirely in Mary’s hands when He lived on earth, that He counted completely on her for protection. Now in Heaven, Christ has entrusted all graces into Mary’s hands, so that she can distribute them to all who seek her help and her intercession.2
  • 18. 18© Due to the Redemptorists who had been appointed as both custodians and missionaries of this icon by Pius IX in 1865, the image has become very popular among Roman Catholics in particular, and has been very much copied and reproduced. The Redemptorists are the only religious order currently entrusted by the Holy See to protect and propagate a Marian religious work of art. Due to the overwhelming Philippine devotion to this Marian title, the image is also affectionately known as the Holy Virgin of Baclaran. Our Lady of Perpetual Help's solemn feast day is celebrated annually on June 27th. Due to the icon having been damaged by incense smoke and discoloration over the centuries, in 1990 the General Government of Redemptorists entered into contract with the Technical Department at the Vatican Museum to restore the icon and prevent further damage. The restoration process involved x-ray and infra-red scanning, technical analysis of the paint and ultra-violet testing along with a carbon 14 dating which determined that icon being dated at between 1325-1480. Artistic analysis of the icon also revealed that its facial structure had been altered due previous over painting, resulting in a combination of "oriental and occidental" features of the image.
  • 19. 19© A photo of the damaged and discoloured icon taken in 1990 prior to its extensive restoration, undertaken under contract with the Vatican Museum.
  • 20. 20© Back to the Church: our visit to the Church was on Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014. This is a photo that shows of what we found!
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  • 42. 42© A Special Prayer to: Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Oh Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of your! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for your prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help. Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me and grant me the favour I confidently ask of you. {mention your petition}
  • 43. 43© We want to thank the following for their contributions to this article: Photos provided by:Architect Rommel Legaspi, Materials and some photos provided by: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
  • 44. 44© If you have suggestions or recommendations on how we can improve this service for you please send your ideas along to: