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The famous Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral has been formally declared as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles during a 7AM Mass on February 2, 2012 the feast day of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria.

A shrine is defined by Canon Law as a church or a sacred place which is by reason of special devotion is frequented by the faithful as pilgrims, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

For a church to be called a “national shrine,” it has to be given recognition by the CBCP. A “local shrine” is when such official recognition is given by the bishop of the place.

On July 16, 2011 the Jaro Cathedral was elevated into a national shrine by the CBCP.

The yearly pilgrimage to the shrine in February and the daily devotions of the people coming from afar bringing with them testimonies of divine interventions and spiritual graces, attest to the reality that the Our Lady of the Candles is indeed Mother to the people of Western Visayas, said Fr. Mickey Cardenas, director of Theological Centrum.

Novena Masses are celebrated daily in the Cathedral from January 24 to February 1 in preparation for the feast day of Our Lady.

On February 1 after the 5.30PM Novena Mass, vespers was celebrated and followed by the Coronation of the image of Our Lady of Candles located in the balcony of the facade of the Cathedral.

On February 2, 11 Masses were celebrated at the high altar of the Cathedral starting at 4.30AM with two high Masses celebrated at 7AM by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and a 5.30PM presided by Capiz Archbishop Jose Advincula.

The formal declaration as National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles coincided with the 30th anniversary of her Canonical Coronation and of naming her as Patroness of Western Visayas.

On February 21, 1981, the image of Our Lady of Candles was canonically crowned by the Blessed Pope John Paul II— the only Marian image in the Philippines that was canonically crowned by a Pope.

The Marian image is venerated not just by the people of Jaro but also by the people of Western Visayas and beyond.

On April 21, 1982, Blessed Pope John Paul II named Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria as Patroness of Western Visayas.

Both canonical coronation and the naming of the image as Patroness are official recognitions of what has already been a fact in the spiritual life not just of the people of Panay but also of the whole Western Visayas, and those who trace their roots to the locale, said Cardenas.

Jaro also celebrated the 425th anniversary this year of the establishment of Parish of Jaro, under the care of the Augustinians on April 25, 1587 under the protection of Our Lady of the Nativity.

Before the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles which the second in the Visayas, there were 18 National Shrines in the Philippines recognized by CBCP, four of which are Minor Basilicas (a papal privilege granted to certain churches).

The 18 National Shrines are: Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Naga City; Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo, Manila; Basilica of the Santo Niño, Cebu City; Basilica of St. Sebastian, National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Quiapo, Manila; National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, Antipolo City; National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, Silang, Cavite; National Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Marilao, Bulacan; National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Marulas, Valenzuela City; St. Anne National Shrine, Hagonoy, Bulacan; National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Quezon City; National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Quezon City; National Shrine of St. Michael and the Archangels, San Miguel, Manila; National Shrine of the Sacred Heart, Makati City; National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Parañaque City; National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Baclaran, Parañaque; National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Sucat, Muntinlupa City; National Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace (Edsa Shrine), Ortigas, Mandaluyong City; National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Makati City. (with CBCP News)

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