Newsletter of the District
- Dec 2001
of the Rosary known as
Nuestra Seņora de la Naval
Lady of the Rosary in the Philippines:
Nuestra Senora de la Naval
Sculpted by a non-Catholic Chinese artist who was later converted
through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, the image of Our
Lady of the Rosary was commissioned in 1593 by the Spanish Governor
of the Philippines, Luis Perez Dasmariñas, who wanted the
statue to memorialize both his deceased father and his own regime.
The statue was entrusted to the Dominicans in Manila and was enshrined
in Santo Domingo Church, where it received an outpouring of love
Fifty-three years later, in March, 1646, while Spanish invaders
were still governing the islands and were outright enemies of the
Dutch, the people were shocked to learn that a fleet of five Dutch
war ships was bearing down on Manila. Carrying the triple threat
of conquest, pillage and Dutch Protestantism, the enemy had chosen
a time when Spanish warships were unavailable for defense.
Two commercial galleons, "The Rosary" and "The Incarnation,"
were donated by their owners and were quickly outfitted in preparation
for battle. While sailing into position for the confrontation, the
men prayed the Rosary and dedicated themselves to La Naval, Our
Lady of the Holy Rosary.
The five Dutch ships were well-equipped with canons, firearms and
trained seamen; the two Spanish-Filipino cargo sips were poorly
fitted with a few guns. At the end of the day it seemed unbelievable
that the Dutch fled the area while the defenders of the city returned
home in glory, praising Our Lady for her protection.
For the next four months, the two cargo ships patrolled the waters;
then, in July, they discovered they had been trapped in a narrow
strait by not five, but seven Dutch ships. Since their position
did not afford a proper angle for battle, they prayed and waited.
Fearful that they would be attacked, they vowed that if they were
victorious they would pilgrimage barefoot to the Church of Santo
Domingo to thank Our Lady of the Rosary. Through the intercession
of La Naval, the two cargo ships were apparently unseen in the fading
sunset since the Dutch ships turned toward Manila without firing
on them. The two cargo ships then gave chase and closed in. At sunrise
the next day the Dutch retreated in disgrace. As soon as the victors
arrived home, they gratefully fulfilled their vow.
After the next battle the people of Manila began to call the cargo
ships "the galleons of the miracle." After the fourth
confrontation and victory the name was confirmed. Yet a fifth time
the Dutch fleet appeared for battle. Anxious to defend their honor
and restore their pride, the Dutch resolved to win at any cost.
The advantage was definitely theirs when they found the two cargo
ships anchored with the wind against them. Unable to move, the two
cargo ships fought where they were and defeated the enemy so badly
that they limped away, never to return.
Our Lady of the Rosary and the men of her two cargo ships defeated
15 well-equipped warships.
This victory at Manila is similar in many respects to the great
naval victory at Lepanto, which was also credited to the intervention
of Our Lady and the power of her Holy Rosary. In both instances
Our Lady miraculously defended and granted victory to the seamen
who place their trust in her.
Sixteen years after the successful defense of Manila, an Ecclesiastical
Council was convened in Cavite to study the unusual aspects of the
five naval victories. The Council consisted of theologians, canonists,
and prominent religious. On April 9, 1662, after studying all the
written and oral testimonies of the participants and eyewitnesses,
the Council declared that the victories were:
Granted by the Sovereign Lord through the intercession of
the Most Holy Virgin and devotion to her Rosary, that the miracles
be celebrated, preached and held in festivities and to be recounted
among the miracles wrought by the Lady of the Rosary for the greater
devotion of the faithful to Our Most Blessed Virgin Mary and Her
This decree was signed by all eight members of the Ecclesiastical
Before the victories, but more especially since then, the people
of the Philippines have lavished La Naval with their most loving
devotion and reverence. The greatest tribute was paid Our Lady when
the statue was canonically crowned on October, 1907 by the Apostolic
Delegate to the Philippines, Msgr. Ambrose Agius.
When the church of Santo Domingo was bombed in 1941, the statue
was hidden for its protection and was later transferred to the chapel
of the University of Santo Tomas. It was here that thousands of
Our Lady's devotees visited the miraculous statue in observance
of the third centennial in 1946. When the shrine at the new Santo
Domingo church in Quezon City was completed in 1954, La Naval was
carried there in a boat-shaped carriage during a solemn procession
attended by the Philippine hierarchy, public officials, priests,
nuns and thousands of La Naval's faithful children. During the Marian
year of 1954, the Philippine bishops declared the Church of Santo
Domingo in Quezon City to be the National Shrine of Our Lady of
the Rosary. Yet another honor was conferred on Our Lady when she
was acknowledged as the patroness of the capital city of the Philippines.
The statue that is so dearly loved by the Filipino people stands
4'8" tall and is made of hardwood, but ivory covers the faces
and the hands of Mother and Child. The statue is perhaps the most
resplendent of the statues mentioned in this book. With the Christ
Child on her left side, gently supported by the Virgin's left hand,
Our Lady's right hand holds a scepter and a 15-decade gold rosary
that is draped in such a fashion that it wraps around the hands
of Mother and Child. Both figures are clothed in exquisite golden
dresses and mantles that are heavily embroidered with golden thread.
An unusual ornament adorns the figure of the Mother of God. Against
the lace that encircles the head is a golden, gem-studded circle.
The bottom of this circle rests against the chest of the Madonna.
Resembling a golden aura, both small and large rays, richly enhanced
with jewels, extend from the circle. Atop the head of the Madonna
rests a magnificent crown that matches the one worn by her Child.
To further display the love that the Filipinos have for the Mother
of God, they have encircled the golden aura and the crown of the
Madonna with an even larger halo of gold, and the crown of the Madonna
with an even larger halo of gold, with jewels sparkling at the tips
of 24 large rays and 24 small rays.
The Blessed Mother has slightly Oriental features and is quite
lovely. The Christ Child is exceptionally appealing with a beautiful
face, fat cheeks and a plump little hand raised in blessing. The
statue with its costly robes, halos and crowns is one of the beautiful
of the miraculous images mentioned in this book.
The Church of Santo Domingo was damaged several times by fire and
earthquakes and was finally destroyed in 1941 by bombs, yet the
statue has never been damaged. La Naval is presently treasured by
the Filipino people in the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City,
a few miles from Manila. During the Marian year of 1954 the church
was designated as the national shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The anniversary of the vow made by the defenders of Manila during
the second naval battle is still observed each year by the people
of the Philippines who pilgrimage to the miraculous statue to demonstrate
their love for Our Lady of the Rosary and their gratitude for the
miracles of protection that took place almost 350 years ago.
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