A centuries-old parish church in the Diocese of Laoag will be elevated to a “diocesan shrine” status next month.
Bishop Renato Mayugba will preside over a Mass to declare the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in San Nicolas town as a shrine on September 10.
It will be the second diocesan shrine in Laoag, after the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc Church, which is now a minor basilica.
The ceremony will also coincide with the feast of the town’s patron saint.
Bishop Mayugba approved the petition initiated by the town’s mayor, Alfredo Valdez Jr., to declare the parish as a diocesan shrine on July 21.
In his petition, Valdez discussed the historical, cultural and architectural significance of the church and the parish’s desire to turn it into a pilgrimage site.
The mayor also cited in his petition the spiritual and cultural contributions of the Order of Saint Augustine to the pueblo and its people.
San Nicolas Church was first constructed in 1584, the same year the town was founded by the Spanish Augustinian friars. The town was then known as Caluntian, a visita of Laoag.
In 1617, it became independent and the friars placed the town under the patronage of San Nicolas, the first canonized member of the Augustinian Order.
The church, which displayed a baroque facade, also bears the Spanish coat of arms. Its current structure was built in 1811 and completed in 1830.
Relics of St. Nicholas and St. Augustine
In his August 6 letter to Rome-based Augustinian Postulator General Father Josef Sciberras, Bishop Mayugba thanked the congregation “for the evangelization of our region.”
In line with the upcoming fifth centenary of the country’s Christianization, the prelate also requested for the first-class relics of St. Nicholas and St. Augustine of Hippo.
He said the sacred relics will be enshrined in their churches dedicated to St. Nicholas and in the Church of St. Augustine in Paoay town.
Catholics who will attend the Mass of solemn declaration of San Nicolas Church as diocesan shrine on September 10 can receive a plenary indulgence, the Vatican said.
The announcement was made in a decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary issued on Aug.t 18, 2020, and signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the Penitentiary Major.
An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven.
The conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence include having recently gone to confession, receiving the Eucharist and offering prayers for the intentions of the Pope.
The plenary indulgence will also be extended to those who may not be able to join the Mass but follow it live through various forms of communication.
The Vatican also added a concession of plenary indulgence to all those who will participate in the fiesta Masses of San Nicolas in the same church, every September 10 in the next seven years.