For nearly 400 years, Filipinos have looked to Our Lady of Antipolo – her proper name is Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage – for safety during a long trip. South Bay Filipinos have kept the tradition alive for 23 years, with the Catholic Diocese of San Jose’s annual nine-day celebration started, which July 24 and culminates in a fiesta at St. Justin’s in Santa Clara on Aug. 2.
The story begins in 1626 when Mexican Governor Juan Niño de Tabora brought a statue of the Virgin Mary across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines on the galleon El Almirante. He credited the image, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, with his safe voyage to the image. Six subsequent, successful galleon voyages with the image aboard sealed the veneration of the image.
Tradition has it that during the construction of a church in her honor in 1632, the statue had a habit of disappearing and later reappearing at the top of a Tipolo (breadfruit) tree -hence the name, Antipolo. At the shrine in the town of Antipolo, the original statue stands on a pedestal made from the wood of a breadfruit tree.
The statue has survived over a century of ocean voyages, a 17th century rebellion that nearly burned Antipolo to the ground, and Japanese occupation in 1944, when a devoted sacristan at the shrine buried her under a kitchen floor.
“The Virgin of Antipolo is the central unifying symbol for Filipino Americans,” says retired Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, Stuart Schlegel who spent many years in the Philippines. Today the shrine attracts millions of devotees to the town of Antipolo. In 1995, South Bay Filipinos joined a national drive to raise funds for building the Oratory of Our Lady of Antipolo at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
For more information, visit www.dsj.org/blog/our-lady-of-antipolo-novena-of-masses or call Lou Concepcion at (408) 439-9414. St. Justin’s is at 2655 Homestead Road, next to the Central Library between San Tomas Expressway and Kiely Boulevard. The Antipolo Fiesta is Saturday at noon.
Our Lady of Everything
Veneration of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, began in the early Christian church and is a central part of the beliefs of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and some Anglicans. Mary is also held in high regard in Islam – in fact she appears more frequently in the Quran than in the Gospels. Mary has hundreds of titles – inspirational, descriptive, theological and those associated with specific events, places and apparitions.