Visita Iglesia: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of the Caracol Church (Rosario, Cavite)

A batel was plying its usual route from Mindoro to Manila when it encountered a strong typhoon. The big merchant’s boat was battered by strong winds and tossed around by giant waves. Great terror engulfed the crewmen as water entered their boat. Their only recourse is to tie themselves to the boat to avoid being thrown overboard. Their captain, as he checked the goods that could be saved from the terrible storm, saw the image of the Virgin Mary. The sight of Our Mother moved him to pray for her help. He promised that he will build a chapel in her honor as soon as they landed safely to the shore.

The stormy night was followed by a sunny morning and calm sea. The crew found themselves along the shores of Sitio Mojon (now called as Barrio Muzon) of Barrio Salinas-Marsella. Knowing that their prayers were answered, the boat crew built a makeshift chapel out of bamboo and the altar was made from the lumber of their boat. The crew entrusted the chapel and the image of Virgen del Rosario to the people of Mojon.

Miraculous image of Nuestra Seῆora del Santisimo Rosario de Caracol

I didn’t know that image of Mama Mary at the altar of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of the Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite has a very interesting story. That image came to the people out of the storm and it served as the beacon of faith and hope to the people.

Since the makeshift chapel is not a good place for a miraculous image, the townspeople built a new church for it. That church is fittingly placed under the patronage of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Salinas-Marsella was once part of the town of San Francisco de Malabon (now known as General Trias). Salinas means salt beds while Marsella is the Spanish word for the seaside French town of Merseille. Salinas-Marsella is famous for its salt beds that lined up it shore. The barrio produces clean salt that were traded in the province of Cavite and Manila.

Salinas-Marsella became a separate town in 1845 by the order of Governor General Don Narciso Claveria y Zaldua. The new town was named as Rosario, which fits the townspeople’s deep devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Undated old photo of Caracol Church in Rosario Cavite
Old photo of Rosario Church. (Source: Rosario Church website)

The age of the church is obvious. Its walls made of adobe blocks and the façade harks back to the Spanish period. However, based on the old photos the church, the porch and the bell tower were later additions.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

According to historical accounts, the first parish priest of Rosario is a native Filipino. He is Don Mamerto Ner Mariano. Unfortunately, he was later on replaced by a Spanish priest from the order of Augustinian Recollects. The change was made under a royal decree and was meant to stem the tide of nationalism that is sweeping through the whole Philippines. It was a futile decree since it alienated the natives and illustrados because they considered it as proof of unfair treatment by the Spanish government against native Filipinos. The move, in fact, resulted to the creation of a schismatic sect called the Aglipayans.

Ancient bell in Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Just like old churches in the Philippines, the church in Rosario became witness to the historical events of the town. During the height of oppression by the friars, many Caviteños turned to banditry and ransacked the church and even the houses of the poor people of Rosario. On April 1, 1987 the members of Katipunan burned the church. During the Filipino-American War, the convent of the church was used as camp of the Filipino soldiers. Fortunately, this church was spared during the Second World War.

Inside Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

I found the church of Rosario to be quite narrow but with a long aisle. The lack of space was compensated by side pews that are outside of the main body of the church. The side pews were not only meant for additional seats but also a space where devotees can do homage to the miraculous image of the Virgen del Rosario, who is also called as the Queen of the Snail.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol image in Rosario, Cavite

Actually, the Virgin Mary’s title in Rosario is Nuestra Seῆora del Santisimo Rosario de Caracol. Mary was given this title because of the snail paced procession held by the townspeople in her honor.

Fiesta of Reina de Caracol in Rosario, Cavite
People celebrating the feast Reina de Caracol (Source: Rosario Church website).

The Caracol begins at the church wherein the Virgin Mary’s miraculous image is borne on the shoulders of her devotees. Hundreds of people from Rosario and neighboring towns participate by dancing to the tune of fandango. The image is later on boarded on a beautifully decorated boat that will pass along the shores of the town. The fluvial procession ends at Barrio Muzon, as if to commemorate the first landing of the Marian image on that very site.

Altar of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

I was awed the first time that I saw Virgin Mary’s image in Rosario Church. I didn’t know the history of that church that time but I know that there is something worth knowing about her image at the altar. I just found it weird that the altar was covered during my visit. Old photos show that Rosario Church’s altar is beautiful.
The side pews to the left of the main church faces directly to the tabernacle. I was disappointed when I saw this. The tabernacle should be placed at the altar and not at the sides.

Tabernacle of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Well, I guess placing the tabernacle at the side is a common practice in Cavite. I have seen the church in Noveleta where the tabernacle was also placed at the side.

Image of the Crucified Jesus in Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Rev. Fr. Virgilio Saenz Mendoza, former assistant parish priest of Rosario, lamented that the old values and tradition of the town are dying. The rapid industrialization of the town and the entry of people from various parts of the Philippines, and the emigration of native residents of Rosario to other countries caused the change of values of the town. The devotion to Nuestra Seῆora del Santisimo Rosario de Caracol is getting weak and the town’s feast is no longer as festive as in the past. The younger generation are no longer interested with the Caracol.

It is sad that centuries old tradition is doomed to extinction. But I guess the whole Philippines is experiencing this. It is a challenge to the Church to make the faith valued again. I do hope that Catholics will move faster than a caracol to achieve this.


Information about the Rosario Church came from the website of the The Most Holy Rosary Parish (Rosario, Cavite)

Visita Iglesia: Saint Polycarp Church, the Oldest in Western Laguna

The City of Cabuyao is the second smallest city in the western section of the province of Laguna in terms of land area. The largest city in the area is Calamba, followed by Santa Rosa, and then Biñan. Cabuyao is just almost 2,000 hectares bigger than San Pedro.

However, in the past, Cabuyao is the biggest town in the western part of Laguna. In fact, Cabuyao is the western part of Laguna because the cities of Calamba, Santa Rosa, Biñan, and San Pedro were its former barangays.

In 1570, the conquistador of Manila Miguel Lopez de Legazpi sent his grandson, Juan de Salcedo, to conquer the territories along the lakeshore of Ba-i (now known as Laguna Lake). Salcedo conquered the indio settlements of Taytay and Cainta along the north lakeshore. He then crossed the river and landed in Pagsanjan and conquered the settlements of Nagcarlan and Majayjay. The mountainous terrain in Majayjay forced Salcedo to just attack the lakeshore until he reached the settlement of Tabuco.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi declared Tabuco as an encomienda or town under Gaspar Ramirez. The Augustinian Recollects were the first missionaries to arrive in Tabuco but they handed their jurisdiction to the Franciscans later on.

Cabuyao got its name when the Franciscans asked the women near port about the name of the place. The women answered “kabuyaw” thinking that the missionaries were asking about the kabuyaw trees growing near the lake. From then on, Tabuco was started to be called as Cabuyao.

According to Reginald Batalla Salcedo in his comment on Pepe Alas’ post, the first church in Cabuyao is located in Barrio North Marinig. This church was destroyed by floods and only the flooring was visible during low tide.

The current church of Cabuyao, which is located at the poblacion, was finished in 1771 and was placed under the patronage of the Saint Polycarp.

St. Polycarp on the church's facade.

St. Polycarp is a disciple of Saint John the Apostle and was a bishop of Smyrna in the 2nd Century. He was martyred in the arena at full view of the crowd, who demands death to the atheists (according to what I read, Christians were considered atheists by Greeks in the past because they refused to worship the Greek gods).

Image of the martyred St. Polycarp at church grounds.

St. Polycarp faced his martyrdom calmly. In fact, when the soldiers arrested him, he offered them food in exchange for an hour of prayer. The proconsul of Smyrna tried to make St. Polycarp deny Christ but the holy man just answered: 

"How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season, and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked."

He was tied at stake and was burned. Miraculously, the fire refused to touch St. Polycarp. There were accounts that the fire just formed an arch and the saint glowed like gold. He was finally killed by a spear thrust to his chest.

Aside from St. Polycarp, the parish of Cabuyao has other minor patrons such as Saint Vincent Ferrer and Saint Clare of Assisi.

It was night when I visited the church so the image of St. Clare looks a little scary.

The church is also dedicated to Our Mother.

I can feel the age of Cabuyao Church just by looking at the old adobe blocks comprising its walls. I thought that it was just a simple old church. Little I know that it is an important part of history.

I read in Pepe Alas’ post that the Cabuyao Church had Father Mariano Gómez as its parish priest from 1848 to 1862. Father Gómez is part the famous GomBurZa, who were executed by the Spanish authorities due to their alleged link with the 1872 Cavite Mutiny.

Cabuyao Church was also witness to the Sakdalista uprising during the American Period. The Sakdalista is a movement founded by Senate employee Benigno Ramos that demanded Philippines’ immediate independence from the USA. Cabuyao and thirteen other towns were attacked by the Sakdalistas at the passing of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which mandated the independence of the Philippines after a ten-year period.

They say that bullet marks made during the Sakdalista Uprising are still present on the church walls. I guess I have to look for the bullet marks when I visit the church again.

The church’s altar features our crucified Lord, the Virgin Mary, and St. Polycarp is his bishop robe.

Looking up the ceiling of the dome made me think of our God looking from above.

St. Polycarp Church in Cabuyao is one of the oldest churches in Laguna. It was witness to the town’s rich history and the evolving life of Cabuyeños. I do wish that this church continue to be the town’s witness and a reminder of Cabuyeños’ root and faith.


Prayer to Saint Polycarp:

God of all creation, You gave your bishop Polycarp the privilege of being counted among the saints who gave their lives in faithful witness to the gospel. May his prayers give us the courage to share with him the cup of suffering and to rise to eternal glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Visita Iglesia: Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel (Fort Bonifacio)

Saint Michael the Archangel is the most badass angel in Heaven. He slices up dragons. He slays giant serpents. And, the best of all, he KOed Satan out of Heaven.

San Miguel Arcangel

Saint Michael is so badass that he was considered by the Church as the head of the Heavenly Army and the Prince of Angels. In military parlance, we can say that Saint Michael is the Chief of Staff of the Heavenly Army. His Commander in Chief is none other than our Lord.

Saint Michael is considered as protector of Christian soldiers. Thus, it is no wonder then why Filipino soldiers venerate the archangel as their personal patron.

Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel in Fort Bonifacio

I noticed this veneration to Saint Michael the Archangel when I entered the chapel dedicated to him inside a Philippine Army camp in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Altar of Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel in Fort Bonifacio

My favorite image of the archangel welcomed me as I entered the chapel grounds.

Image of Saint Michael slaying the devil in Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel, Fort Bonifacio

This signifies that the Devil will never be victorious against the followers of Jesus Christ because Saint Michael will be there to defend them.

Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel is one of the few churches in the Philippines where the lector and the servers are members of the Military. The Mass in this chapel is being presided by a military chaplain.

Inside the Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel in Fort Bonifacio

Unfortunately, I visited this chapel after the Easter Sunday thus the crucified image of Christ was covered by an image of the Risen Lord.

Altar of Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel, Fort Bonifacio

I am not sure though if what they did was correct. The truth is that I didn’t like this change in the altar.

This is the view of the altar during the normal days:

Baptism in Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel, Fort Bonifacio
(Source: RARMartinez Fotografia)

At the side of the altar is the image of the military’s patron saint.

Image of Saint Michael the Archangel in the Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel, Fort Bonifacio

What I found weird is that the lectern bears the logo of the Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas (Philippine Army).

Philippine Army Logo in Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel, Fort Bonifacio

The pew also bears the Philippine Military logo.

Philippine Army Seal in Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel, Fort Bonifacio

Despite being called a chapel, Saint Michael the Archangel is bigger than some church structures. In fact, it is big enough to hold weddings and baptisms.

Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel is the most popular angels in Christianity and many soldiers around the world ask for his intercession. He is also considered as the protector of the Church and Catholics seek his protection by uttering this prayer:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the divine power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

I always say this prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel together with the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be prayers. I especially say this prayer whenever I felt fear or if I think there are demons or evil spirits in my vicinity. I believe, like the whole Church believes, that Saint Michael will defend those who are oppressed by Satan and his minions.

Visita Iglesia 2017

Our Lord Jesus Crucified
(Source: Catholic Lane)

Semana Santa or the Holy Week is just around the corner. Thus, it is time once again for my yearly tradition: the virtual Vista Iglesia.

Visita Iglesia is a Holy Week tradition wherein Filipino Catholics visit seven churches during Maundy Thursday. Prayers, paticularly the Stations of the Cross, is prayed for every church that was visited.

The Visita Iglesia was started by San Felipe Neri in mid-16th Century. They would visit the four major basilicas in Rome plus three more significant minor basilicas. This practice became popular that it spread to other countries. This tradition is more likely handed down to Filipinos by the Spaniards.

Now, the traditional Visita Iglesia had some modern twist. There is the Bisikleta Iglesia for bikers who prefer their bicycles than walking on foot. There is the online Visita Iglesia hosted by the CBCP for OFWs and other people who are not able to do the tradition because of illness.

My virtual Visita Iglesia will feature seven churches. One church for each day of the Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday.

I will feature the follwing churches for this year:

Palm Sunday: Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City
Holy Monday: Saint Polycarp Church in Cabuyao City, Laguna
Holy Tuesday: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, the Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite
Maundy Thursday: Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord in SM Megamall
Good Friday: National Shrine of Our Mother of Perepetual Help in Pasay City
Black Saturday: Saint Peter’s Church in Quezon City

So starting tomorrow, let us journey on toward the Sacrifice on the Cross and the our Lord’s victory against sin and death. May you find the Lenten Season as the season of your conversion. God bless you.