MANILA The 9-day Novena of the Feast of Nuestra SeAora de la Salud (The Black Virgin of Health), which was revived in 2017 after 72 years in hibernation, starts Nov. 8 at its newly built chapel at St. Nicolas Parish in Barangay Toro, Quezon City.
Thousands of devotees are expected to attend the 385th anniversary of the holy image since the Spaniards brought it to the Philippines from Mexico in 1634.
The novena will start at 5:15 p.m. to be followed by a Holy Mass.
Healing is being scheduled on Tuesday (Nov. 12) to be presided by Fr. Nelson Plohimon, OAR.
The blessing of the new chapel will be on Sunday (Nov. 17) at 4 p.m. to be followed by a Concelebrated Mass with Fr. Dionisio Q. Selma as the main celebrant.
A procession and enthronement of the holy image then follows.
Public veneration was suspended by the Order of Recoletos (OAR) following the battle in Manila towards the end of World War II wherein the image was not damaged a bit, even a scratch.
Fr. Rommel L. Rubia, OAR, said the Nuestra SeAora del la Salud "is the title given to a small miraculous image of the Virgin brought by the OAR (Order of Recoletos) fathers in 1634 from Mexico.
The 385-year old image made of ivory adorned with costly and colorful stones was a precious gift from the Discalced (Barefoot) Carmelite nuns of Mexico to the Recollect missionaries on their way to their missions in the Philippines," Fr. Rubia said.
The long and arduous sea voyage resulted in numerous illness to the crewmen.
With no doctors around, the Recoletos fathers on board brought out the image and together they prayed for the intercession of Nuestra SeAora de la Salud.
Miraculous healings occurred after praying in front of the image during the long and difficult trip from Mexico, Fr. Rubia said.
It was that historic event that the holy image was given the title La Salud by the faithful, he pointed out.
Upon arriving in the Philippines, the image was enshrined in the Church of San Juan de Bagumbayan in 1634.
But in 1762 an unfortunate incident occurred when the church and convent were destroyed, and the image was transferred to the Church of San Nicolas in Intramuros, Manila that drew more devotees.
Then in 1945 during the great Battle in Manila where American planes bombed the Japanese totally destroying the city.
However, the image of La Salud miraculously survived the bombing of the San Nicolas Church, Fr. Rubia said.
The Recoletos fathers took the image and brought it to the sacristy of San Sebastian Basilica also in Manila for safekeeping for several years.
When the Vicar Provincial transferred its residence in Quezon City in 1970, he took the image with him.
Then in 1988, the image was handed over to the Museo Rekoleto for safekeeping, Fr. Rubia said.
For 72 years the image was kept from the public eye, and many thought the miraculous image was lost or destroyed.
Devotion by the faithful faded into oblivion and never bothered to celebrate her feast day.
However, in December of 2016 the OAR fathers decided to reintroduce her cult to the Filipino people, giving those afflicted with different illness and sourced of strength, comfort and hope by invoking Mary's intercession through this Marian devotion, Fr. Rubia said.
The 9-day Novena was officially revived two years ago, many devotees have claimed to be healed of their sickness. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency