A blessing ― that is how we, Filipinos described the recent apostolic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis here in the Philippines. The five-day visit, with the theme “Mercy and Compassion,” is the Pontiff’s promise to see the poor and comfort the super typhoon Haiyan survivors. It was a short stay but meaningful enough for the Pope to personally witness the hopeful faith of the nation, and who as well brought tears to every Filipino’s eyes with his inspiring words, every action and smile.

Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag
Manaoag Church grand altar where in the miraculous Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus is enshrined.
After a month of the People’s Pope visit, the Philippines received yet another blessing as the famous pilgrimage site of the North, the miraculous Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag officially proclaimed as a Minor Basilica on 17th of February 2015.

The jeepney–style popemobile used by Pope Francis during his Philippine visit in January was also exhibited in the church square.

The solemn declaration was led by Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto, who represented Pope Francis and read his Latin written decree to elevate the Manaoag Shrine as a basilica. The Holy Mass which was also celebrated during the historic event was graced by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle along with co-celebrants Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI and Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales. At least 60 archbishops, 300 priests and religious attended to witness the momentous proclamation including thousands of guests and devotees.

Holy Mass officiated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle along with two co-celebrants Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
Cardinal Tagle pointed out that a basilica is a symbol of God’s gift and presence, “God never leaves God’s people alone,” and it’s a call of constant visitation. He shared the crowd that after visiting the basilica and visited by God, will have to go on a mission to visit other people and share God’s word with them. “Pray not just for your needs but for others,” he added as well.

Blessing of the papal bell (tintinnabulum), a chair and an umbrella (umbraculum) during the solemn ceremony.
Two of the three papal symbols displayed in both sides of the front altar: the papal chair and papal umbrella.
Sea of crowd flocking to have a glimpse of the three cardinals after the solemn celebration and Holy Mass.
During the ceremony, the papal bell and an umbrella were solemnbly blessed together with the papal chair placed in the front altar. As papal basilica, the Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de Manaoag now formally holds special apostolic privileges including the plenary indulgence grant by the Vatican. Moreover, the Manaoag Church façade now beautifully adorned with a papal seal, a one of its kind in the province of Pangasinan.

Manaoag Church façade ornamented with a beautiful crossed golden and silver keys of the papal seal.
Petition candles of varied size and colors of the visiting devotees and pilgrims.
Last October 11, 2014, Pope Francis gave the title Minor Basilica to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.


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