Archbishop Charles Brown, papal nuncio to the Philippines, blessed and dedicated the newly rebuilt pilgrim church of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation in Gamu, a town in the northern diocese of Ilagan in Isabela province
The parish church houses an image of Our Lady of the Visitation, which is visited by devotees and pilgrims especially every July 2, her feast day.
Saying that the image is known for its “fragrance,” the nuncio underscored that “the imagery of aroma is symbol of Mary’s maternal love for the people.”
“Let the Church be the fragrance of Christ. We, the baptized, are Christ’s fragrance to the world. You carry His aroma to the world to become this beautiful fragrance for others,” Archbishop Brown said.
Mass concelebrants include Archbishops Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao and Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia, and bishops William David Antonio of Ilagan, Daniel Presto of San Fernando de La Union, Prudencio Andaya of Tabuk, and Valentin Dimoc of Bontoc-Lagawe.
Guibang Shrine Rector Fr. Gregorio Marvic Uanan said the church was rebuilt to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims visiting the shrine.
“The church was expanded in order to really accommodate the vast number of pilgrims going to her sanctuary here in Guibang especially during her fiesta every July,” Fr. Uanan said.
The rebuilding of the larger church began in December 2018. While the construction was ongoing, liturgical services and devotional activities were held in the adjacent St. Claire Monastery.
Built on the same location, the church was expanded from its original 750-square meter floor area to 1,100 square meters. It can now hold around 750 seats and a full standing area capacity of around 1,200 people.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, Archbishop Brown also led the blessing of a giant statue of Our Lady of the Visitation of Guibang at the fork route going towards the shrine.
The Guibang Church was declared as the Philippines’ eighth national shrine on February 13, 1986.
It is the only national shrine in the northern Ecclesiastical Province of Tuguegarao that comprises the Tuguegarao archdiocese and the dioceses of Ilagan and Bayombong.
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