At the end of the Marian month of May, Filipinos were reminded “to be worthy of the title ‘pueblo amante de Maria'” or “people in love with Mary” and to imitate her humility.
“Let us love her for she was the one who had brought Jesus to the world because of her obedience,” said Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, on May 31.
In his homily on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the pontifical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Aranzazu, the prelate reminded the faithful of God’s preference for the “shamed and the small.”
“Our Lady herself wasn’t from the capital, she was from the provinces in Nazareth, and yet God chose her and made her the Mother of all the living,” said Archbishop Brown.
“In the New Testament, we can see how God chooses the small and makes them great,” he added.
Archbishop Brown led the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the pontifical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Aranzazu in the town of San Mateo in the province of Rizal.
The devotion to the Virgin of Aranzazu dates back to as early as 1469 in Spain, and was introduced to the Philippines through the town of San Mateo in 1705.
The spread of the devotion led to the construction of the church in the town in honor of the Lady in 1716.
People in Rizal province attested to what they described as “miracles” of the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
During her episcopal coronation on Nov. 9, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) battered the central part of the Philippines and brought heavy rains even in the capital. But the rain stopped when the ceremony started, said witnesses.
On Monday, May 31, the sun came out after a heavy downpour when the celebration was about to begin.
“[A friend] told me of that time in 2013, how the skies suddenly brightened for the Virgin Mary,” said Alona Deputado, 48, who came all the way from Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.
She said she learned about the celebration when she attended Sunday Mass. “I felt like I was called by God to celebrate with Mary,” said Deputado, a Marian devotee.
She said she felt something drew her to the Lady of Aranzazu when she first learned about her through her friend.
“I feel blessed to witness the reenactment of the coronation and with the papal nuncio being here,” she said.
Johnny De Castro, 58, came from the nearby village of Silangan and went to San Mateo to join the celebration. He said he never missed a Marian celebration since he became a devotee in 2006.
“I fell in love with Mary…. The devil fears Mary the most. That’s when I started knowing more about her,” he said.
De Castro said every prayer answered is “miracle” from the Blessed Virgin. “She never failed to pray for me,” he said. “Every time I have a problem, I ask for her help, and there’s always an answer.”
Devotees have offered testimonials of “miracles” that were supposed to have occurred through the intercession of the Virgin of Aránzazu.
The image of the Lady of Aranzazu depicts Mary holding the Christ Child and vested in imperial regalia. She holds an apple symbolizing her role as the “New Eve.” It depicts the 1469 apparition, with the Virgin standing on a thorn bush with a small quadrilateral bell hanging from it.
The image is known for its controversial artistic posture. While the original image in the Sanctuary of Arantzazu in Oñate, Spain, is a seated Madonna, the image in San Mateo, Rizal, is depicted standing.