Old Marian statue retrieved after 4 decades

Old Marian statue retrieved after 4 decades

This undated photo shows Archbishop Martin Jumoad celebrating Mass at Cotta Shrine in Ozamiz City. PHOTO FROM THE ARCHDIOCESE OF OZAMIZ

MANILA— A revered statue of the Blessed Mother which disappeared mysteriously from a shrine in southern Philippines almost 42 years ago has been recovered and will be returned to church authorities.

Señora de Triunfo de Ozamiz is a 17th century image of the Immaculate Conception that went missing from the altar of the Cotta Shrine in Ozamiz City since December 1975. Many people claimed that an antique dealer or collector must have stolen it.

Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz said the archdiocese has lined up activities for the arrival of the carved image on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“Our people here in Ozamiz are very glad that the 1756 image will finally come home. Many are very happy, some even cried,” Jumoad said over Church-run Radio Veritas.

He said the statue was found and bought in an auction in a hotel in Makati by a certain J.V. Esposo. The icon was later discovered to be the missing image.

“To JV, we are very thankful that he open-heartedly and freely expressed his desire to return the image to the Archdiocese of Ozamiz,” he said.

From its arrival at the Ozamiz City airport, the archbishop said that a procession will be held to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

From the cathedral, it will then be returned to the altar of the Cotta shrine, located right across the Ozamiz Fort, where it was originally enshrined.

“Her place is really at the Fort. The plan now is to really put it in a higher place so it will be better secured,” said Jumoad.

Believed to be miraculous, the image has drawn a lot of devotees and has been a pilgrimage destination in the city.

Since its disappearance, however, another carved image of the Blessed Mother on the wall of the fort facing the sea has gathered a growing number of devotees. CBCPNews