CBCP elevates Obando Church to national shrine status 

CBCP elevates Obando Church to national shrine status 

San Pascual Baylón Parish-Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion de Salambao in Obando, Bulacan. PHOTO FROM OBANDO CHURCH

By Catholic News Agency

January 27, 2021

Manila, Philippines

A popular pilgrimage site widely known for its fertility festival in Bulacan province has been designated a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

The San Pascual Baylón Parish-Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion de Salambao in Obando town now joins the 26 other churches across the country with such a title. 

It is also the fourth national shrine in the Diocese of Malolos, located just north of Manila. 


The bishops on Wednesday voted in favor of the petition to declare the parish as a national shrine during their online plenary assembly.


The Obando Church was founded by the Franciscan missionaries on April 29, 1754. 

Its humble beginnings came with the settlement at the small chapel dedicated to St. Clare of Assisi, which was then already established in the town in order to Christianize the local pagan rituals connected to fertility.


The missionaries chose St. Paschal Baylón, a Spanish lay Franciscan friar, as the titular patron of the parish. His surname Baylón means to dance, identifying the saint as a dancing devotee to the Blessed Mother.

On June 19, 1763, three fishermen brothers discovered an image of Nuestra Señora de la Conception while fishing in waters near the borders of Obando and Malabon City using a large net attached to a bamboo raft called “salambao”. 


Just like how Jose Rizal stated in “Noli Me Tángere”, Obando has been a pilgrimage site for barren couples and their families.


In the middle of May, devotees dance to the tune of “Santa Clara pinong-pino…” following the steps of the traditional “Pandanggo”.

The Obando fertility dance is celebrated in three consecutive days from May 17 to 19, each one honoring St Paschal Baylón, St. Clare of Assisi and Our Lady of Salambao respectively.

With profound faith and devotion of pilgrims and locales alike, the tradition of the fertility dance and its Marian following continues to grow through the ages.

In the 250th year of the parish in 2004, the venerated image of Our Lady of Salambao was granted an episcopal coronation, the first of its kind in the Diocese of Malolos, by Bishop Jose Oliveros.


In 2007, the same bishop elevated the parish as a diocesan shrine in honor of Our Lady as Nuestra Señora de la Immaculada Concepcion de Salambao.

Between the years 2014 to 2020, the church’s patio, interior and exterior had undergone continuous development through the generosity of pilgrims from across the nation.


On Dec. 19, 2020, the parish also opened to the public a 2-storey museum, which houses devotional artwork, antique images, treasured attire of Our Lady and a visual presentation of Obando’s history as pilgrimage center.

No date has been set yet for the rite to formally declare the parish as a national shrine.

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