Bulacan Marian image receives canonical coronation
By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban
February 1, 2020
Santa Maria, Bulacan
The image of La Purisima Concepcion de Santa Maria in Bulacan province received canonical coronation on Saturday, bringing the number of canonically crowned Marian images in the country to 42.
More than 3,000 people witnessed the ceremony led by Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu and Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos at the La Purisima Concepcion Parish Church.
Also present were Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, Bishop Bartolome Santos of Iba, retired Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan, Msgr. Julien Kaboré, Chargé d’ Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature, and dozens of priests.
Ongtioco was serving as apostolic administrator of Malolos when Pope Francis approved the decree for the revered image’s canonical coronation in June 2019.
In his homily, he noted the importance of the devotion to La Purisima Concepcion through the many miracles received through her intercession.
“We thank God for this wonderful grace as we give honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Ongtioco said.
“Even though the teaching of the Immaculate Conception was only promulgated a dogma in 1854, since 1792, the people of Santa Maria have been devoted to this particular title of Mary, conceived without original sin,” he said.
The bishop also recalled the time between 1899 to 1931 when the image was taken away during the Filipino-American War.
“Yet in 1931, the people of Santa Maria found the image once more in Gapan, Nueva Ecija and now was brought to her home to the joy of the people,” he said.
He also noted other miracles which according to him, “proved how miraculous the devotion to La Purisima Concepcion is as she makes a way to return and be with her people.”
Founded by the Franciscan missionaries, the Parish of La Purisima Concepcion is one of the unique Marian centers of the diocese.
As of this year, major construction efforts were held in the parish which included the Camarin de la Virgen behind the sanctuary, the grand and minor retablos, the altar and the dome.
The church’s dome, now considered one of the artistic feats in a church, has paintings by Bulakeño artist Pelagio Santos featuring the twelve apostles and a number of local Marian devotions in Bulacan which include Our Lady of Salambao, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Assumption among others.
According to Santa Maria parish priest Msgr. Ranilo Trillana, the whole month of February is considered the fiesta period in the town.
On Feb. 2, he announced that there will be the first replica procession of La Purisima Concepcion that will be accompanied by images cared for by different associations and individuals.
He added that the fiesta proper will be on Feb. 6, traditionally on the Thursday after the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation.
“Now since we have the image of Our Lady crowned. It is now time to promote her. It has been a blessing that we have finalized the Perpetual Novena in honor of La Purisima Concepcion which will be available for the faithful,” Trillana said.
He added that “it would be much used as every Thursday of the month will be the special day dedicated to La Purisima Concepcion.”
With today’s coronation, the liturgical songs from the recently launched album “Misa Purisima” was also used with original compositions in honor of Our Lady by Msgr. Trillana, Michael Yanga, Gerardo de Leon and Noel Brigino.
La Purisima Concepcion is now the second canonically crowned Marian image in the Malolos diocese since La Virgen Inmaculada Concepcion de Malolos in 2012, and currently enshrined at Malolos Cathedral.
A canonical coronation is a pious institutional act wherein the Pope, through a bull, designates a crown or stellar halo be added to a Marian image under a specific devotional title in a particular diocese.
Two more Marian images are expected to receive a canonical coronation this year in the Philippines: Nuestra Señora delos Dolores of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Dolores, Quezon on March 25 and Nuestra Señora de Lourdes of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City on May 2.