Redemptorist, Baclaran, Philippines
The phenomenon of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Philippines is the thousands upon thousands of devotees that go to the Shrine 24/7. Every Wednesday thousand upon thousand make a lot of sacrifice to fulfill their devotion to our Mother.
The Church's architecture is described as Modern Romanesque. Cesar Concio, its architect, and Jesse Bontoc, his associate, had planned a higher church with a bell tower. But because of its proximity to the airport, civil aeronautic regulations prevented them from carrying out their plan in full.
The present church building is the third built on the site in Baclaran.
Whenever we show the Icon and ask the people who is the perpetual help, most of them will answer: Mary is the perpetual help. But Mary is the Mother of perpetual help, Jesus then is the perpetual help! This is the first lesson of the icon.
Unlike other objects of devotions to the Blessed Mother which are usually of image or a statue, the object of devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is an icon. This painting was painted in the Byzantine style of the Eastern Church. The purpose of this style of art is not to show a beautiful scene or person but to convey a beautiful spiritual message.
The Redemptorists are the honored stewards of the shrine. The Redemptorist is a religious missionary congregation of brothers and priests dedicated to the proclamation of good news of plentiful redemption in Jesus Christ especially to the poor and the most abandoned. It was founded in 1732 by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri in Naples, Italy.
When the Redemptorist missionaries arrived in the Philippines in 1906, they introduced the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help through their missions and retreats. However, the early Redemptorist never envisioned that someday a shrine where thousands would gather every Wednesday will rise up in Baclaran.
The ministry at the shrine cannot be possible without the valuable work of the lay. We have lots of lay people working at the shrine, some are full-time and many are volunteers. Many of them bring and share to the shrine their talents and specialties out of their devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help. Having freely received blessings from God through the Blessed Mother they freely share these blessings to others especially to fellow devotees. Without the help of lay partners, ministry at the shrine will not be possible.
What draws thousands of devotees to the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran?
It is nearly impossible to explain the deep mystery of what lies beneath every heart of the devotee that keeps them going to our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday. Evidently, the love of God and the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual is truly experienced by the devotees, in spite of all the pains and struggles they go through in life.
The arrival of thousands of devotees and pilgrims in Baclaran made this small village into a boom town and brought with it livelihood opportunities especially the poor. Throughout the years, the shrine provided thousands of people with a living mainly through selling all sorts of things like food, clothes and many other things. It also provided jobs in the business establishments around the shrine like restaurants, flea market and shops which mushroomed after the explosion of the novena.
According to tradition when handing over the Icon to the Redemptorsit in 1866. Pope Pius IX expressed the desire that they should make her known to the world. From that time until the present, devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help has spread all over the world.
The Redemptorists brought the picture of the Mother of Perpetual Help to the Philippines in 1906. Forty years later, the Redemptorists introduced the Perpetual Novena to the nation.
Behind the phenomenon of the thousands of devotees who flock to the shrine is a beautiful story. We would like to tell you that story. We would like to share with you the history of the shrine, the people behind it, its main charism, the meaning of the icon and the countless blessings the devotees have received through the shrine.
Greetings from Fr. Joey Echano, CSsR.
Rector of the Shrine
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