Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig called it a “blessing” for all the faithful to have Pope Francis elevate the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Anne in Taguig City to the status of a minor basilica.
It is the first such designation for any church in the 19-year-old Pasig diocese, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Manila.
The shrine was formally declared a minor basilica during Mass presided over by Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, on Nov. 21, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
At the start of the liturgy, Bishop Vergara thanked the pope for the honor he granted the shrine, “which brings us much pride and joy.”
“For this, we are extremely grateful,” said Bishop Vergara, who is also the Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“We know that being granted the title of a minor basilica is a precious gift that comes with a responsibility to strengthen the spiritual life, pastoral works and acts of charity of the parish community,” he said.
Doing these, the bishop said, involve imitating the three values of St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary: love, hope and piety.
In his homily, the papal nuncio emphasized that a basilica has special privileges with ties to the pope.
One of the most significant, he said, is the plenary indulgences, which the faithful who devoutly visit the basilica on certain days and participate in sacred rites may receive.
He went on to stress that the church should be a place of protection “for the poor, for the weak, and for all of us… no matter what our background is, no matter what our temptations may be, no matter what our failures are”.
“Let’s make our Churches open to everyone, the Church is a place where God is present. The church is a place where our sins are forgiven,” Archbishop Brown said.
Echoing Pope Francis, he pointed out that the church is like a hospital “that doesn’t close its doors to people who are sick… so they could come and be healed and cared for”.
The ceremony was attended by several bishops led by CBCP president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, CBCP President, consecrated persons, some government leaders, and lay faithful.
“I wish that this minor basilica and shrine would extend a special care, especially for the poor and the sick ones among senior citizens,” Bishop David said in his message.
The Vatican approved the diocese’s petition to be declared a minor basilica on June 29, 2022, but the diocese only made it public on July 26.
An application for minor basilica status must come from the local bishop and include, among others, a description of the church, and its history and unique nature.
The Augustinian missionaries planted the seed of Christianity in the parish 435 years ago.
The basilica also houses a bone relic of St. Anne.
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