Antipolo Cathedral now recognized as first international shrine in PH, Southeast Asia

MANILA, Philippines – In the Philippines, one of the most famous pilgrimage sites, especially during Holy Week, is the Antipolo Cathedral in Rizal, also known as Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.

Did you know that just this Friday, January 26, it was declared as an international shrine, the first of its kind in the Philippines and in the entire Southeast Asia?

Antipolo Cathedral now recognized as first international shrine in PH, Southeast Asia
Photo courtesy: Facebook/Antipolensis - Roman Catholic Diocese of Antipolo

The cathedral has been bestowed with the designation of Marian "International Shrine" by the Vatican. This recognition was commemorated with a symbolic coronation and declaration ceremony led by Most Rev. Charles Brown, D.D., the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

Most Rev. Brown discussed the historical importance of "Our Lady of Antipolo" in both the Philippines and the Catholic Church. He emphasized the deep expression of popular devotion among Filipinos, mentioning traditions such as the 'Simbang Gabi' masses before Christmas, the 'Traslacion' of the Black Nazarene, and the Sinulog Festival of Sto. Nino, which attracts millions of Catholic believers.

He also recognized the 'Alay-Lakad' procession in Antipolo as a noteworthy pilgrimage journey. He underscored the value of 'synodality', with more than 85 bishops present to witness the declaration, as a way to strengthen the connection between believers and the church. Additionally, Brown highlighted the importance of church leaders interacting with the humble and less privileged followers of the Catholic faith.

The attendance of Brown, bringing Pope Francis's leadership, underscores the unity between the local and universal Catholic communities and grants international recognition to the local celebration.

The Latin Decree was announced by Most Rev. Francisco De Leon, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of Antipolo, with Rev. Msgr. Bernardo Patin, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), who respectively recited the Latin and English versions of the Vatican decree.

Among those present in the event were First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, Rizal Governor Rebecca Ynares, Antipolo City Mayor Jun Ynares, as well as other local government officials and numerous priests from the Diocese of Antipolo.

This significant occasion brought together pilgrims, dignitaries, and clergy in Antipolo to witness the official declaration of the 450-year-old cathedral, home to the revered image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Madrigal Singers provided musical accompaniment for this momentous ceremony.

Meanwhile, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Antipolo expressed gratitude for the official recognition of the international shrine, describing it as "a gift from the Philippine Church to the worldwide community."

On the official Facebook page of the Antipolo Cathedral, they encouraged devotees to share photos of the Virgin of Antipolo and the celebration, and comment their prayers for her.

“Sa nagdaang Selebrasyon ng Pagtatalaga ng Simbahan ng Antipolo bilang Pandaigdigang Dambana ng Ina ng Kapayapaan at Mabuting Paglalakbay hatid sa bawat-isa na laging lumapit sa Diyos upang magpuri, humihingi ng pagpapatawad, magpasalamat, at dumulog sa ating Diyos. Ang ating mapaghimalang Birhen ng Antipolo ay laging nating kasama, namamagitan sa atin tungo sa Diyos.”

“Bilang parte ng pagdiriwang, magbahagi ng larawan ng iyong pakikikisa sa naging selebrasyon.”

“Aba, Reyna ng Kapayapaan!” it can be read.

— Noel Ed Richards, The Summit Express

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