HomeDiocesan ReportsPhilippine bishops elevate Obando church to national shrine status

Philippine bishops elevate Obando church to national shrine status

The Obando church was founded by the Franciscan missionaries on April 29, 1754

A popular pilgrimage site widely known for its fertility festival in Bulacan province has been designated a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

The San Pascual Baylón Parish-Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion de Salambao in Obando town now joins 26 other churches across the country with such a title.

It is also the fourth national shrine in the Diocese of Malolos, located just north of Manila.
On Wednesday, January 27, the bishops voted in favor of the petition to declare the parish as a national shrine during their online plenary assembly.

The Obando church was founded by the Franciscan missionaries on April 29, 1754.

Its humble beginnings came from a small chapel dedicated to St. Clare of Assisi that was established in the town with the aim to “Christianize” pagan rituals connected to fertility.

The missionaries chose St. Paschal Baylón, a Spanish lay Franciscan friar, as the titular patron of the parish. His surname Baylón means to dance, identifying the saint as a dancing devotee to the Blessed Mother.

On June 19, 1763, three fishermen discovered an image of the Nuestra Señora de la Conception while fishing in the waters near the borders of Obando and Malabon using a large net attached to a bamboo raft called “salambao.”

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The Obando fertility dance is celebrated in three consecutive days from May 17 to 19, each day honoring St Paschal Baylón, St. Clare of Assisi, and the Our Lady of Salambao.

In 2004, the venerated image of the Our Lady of Salambao was granted an episcopal coronation, the first of its kind in the Diocese of Malolos, by Bishop Jose Oliveros.

In 2007, the prelate elevated the parish as a diocesan shrine in honor of Our Lady as Nuestra Señora de la Immaculada Concepcion de Salambao.

From 2014 to 2020, the church’s patio, interior and exterior had undergone continuous development through the generosity of pilgrims from across the nation.

On Dec. 19, 2020, the parish opened to the public a two-storey museum, which houses devotional artwork, antique images, treasured attire of Our Lady and a visual presentation of Obando’s history as pilgrimage center.

No date has been set yet for the rite to formally declare the parish as a national shrine.

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