The La Purísima Concepción Parish in the town of Santa Maria in Bulacan has been formally raised as a minor basilica on on Saturday, Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
In his homily Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, praised the basilica as “a beautiful church with a wonderful and beautiful celebration.”
He said it reflects “the words written in the dome of the church – Tota Pulchra es – ‘You are wholly beautiful.’”
The archbishop noted that the basilica’s “umbraculum,” or the “papal umbrella,” which symbolizes the “closeness and protection of the pope to the church,” can also be said as the “closeness and protection of the Virgin Mary”.
The theme for the celebration, “Sub Tuum Præsidium” (We fly to your Protection), refers to the third century Marian prayer, a sign of being “under the veil or the mantle of the Virgin Mary that shows us the protection of Mary.”
In his thanksgiving address, Basilica Rector Msgr. Alberto Suatengco said the occasion “is another miracle of the Virgin after 230 years since Santa Maria was founded.”
He also said that “the first miracle would be how the Virgen La Purísima Concepción shows her continuous maternal care for all of us, the miracle of her reliable patronage.”
It was on March 21 when Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos announced that Pope Francis has approved a petition to elevate the parish church to the rank of a minor basilica.
Founded by the Franciscans in 1792, the Sta. Maria church is the second minor basilica in the Malolos diocese after the historic Malolos Cathedral, which became a basilica in 1999 in light of the centennial celebration of the Philippine Republic. – from a CBCP News report