10/09/2006, 00.00
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Manila: feast of Our Lady of La Naval, "helper of Christian navies"

by Santosh Digal

In 1981, John Paul II dedicated the Philippines and all Asia to Mary, Queen of the Rosary, with the title of La Naval. The feast recalls five battles back in 1646, won by the Filipinos against Dutch invaders, thanks to the rosary and the Blessed Virgin's intercession.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church in the Philippines, especially Marian devotees, yesterday commemorated the feast of Our Lady of La Naval, a special title given centuries ago to the Blessed Virgin as "helper of Christian navies".

A long procession started out from St Dominic Church (the national shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary) in Quezon City, winding its way through the streets of the city with the image of Our Lady of La Naval. Hundreds of faithful followed, carrying candles. As part of the celebrations, a novena was held, ending on 7 October.

The procession is held in commemoration of the victory of Spanish-Filipino forces against the more powerful Dutch fleet off Bataan in 1646.  The intercession of the Blessed Virgin was sought through the Rosary before each of five bloody battles. It is said the Filipinos not only triumphed but lost only 15 compatriots in the fighting.

After the victory, a group of devoted churches asked the authorities of the Holy See to recognize the victories as "miracles worked by the Mother of God". After an examination by the Ecclesiastical Committee, on April 9 1662, the five victories over the invaders were declared as "miraculous, granted by the Sovereign Lord through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and devotion to her rosary."

In 1981, the late Pope John Paul II dedicated "the Philippines and of all Asia to Mary, Queen of the Rosary with the title of La Naval".

To celebrate this feast of the Blessed Virgin and to mark the month of the Holy Rosary, Dominican friars have decided to set up an exhibition of photos and memorabilia of Mary in the Philippines. The exhibition, which will remain open until 31 October, is being held in the cloisters of St Dominic's Church.

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