Vatican Declares Antipolo Church As First "International Shrine" in PH

A church in Antipolo city has received the Vatican’s blessing. It is now the first “International Shrine” in the Philippines.

The Vatican has blessed the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. It elevated the landmark to an “international shrine” on March 25, 2023.

This recognition marks a significant milestone for the Catholic Church in the Philippines. This becomes the first Marian international shrine in Asia and the sixth worldwide.

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Vatican’s Blessing

The Vatican’s declaration bestows special significance on this historic church, making it the 11th globally and the third in Asia, following the St. Thomas Church Malayattoor India, and the Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground together with the Seoul Pilgrimage Routes in South Korea.

This recognition is a testament to the profound religious and cultural importance of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.

In the Catholic Church, shrines hold a place of spiritual significance and pilgrimage for believers. There are three types of shrines: diocesan shrines approved by local bishops, national shrines recognized by bishops’ conferences, and international shrines, which are exclusively endorsed by the Vatican.

It often encompasses historic locations, sites associated with approved Marian apparitions, and places connected to saints, adding to their religious importance.

Sacred Honor

The journey to achieving this status for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage began with a petition from the Diocese of Antipolo in July 2021. This petition received endorsement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, signifying widespread support within the Catholic community for this historic recognition.

The diocese hoped that this recognition would not only honor the church but also symbolize faith and inspire Filipinos and individuals worldwide dedicated to the causes of peace and safe voyages. Many see the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage as a spiritual beacon for those seeking the love of Christ and the maternal care of the Blessed Mother. As a testament to its power, many know the image of Our Lady statue for mysteriously vanishing several times from its shrine while its church was under construction in the 1930s.

“By being a center of the Catholic faith in the region, this would be an honor that will be claimed as a beacon for Filipinos across the world and those inspired by the cause of peace and good voyage attest their fervor in the faith to the love of Christ and to the maternal care of the Blessed Mother,” the diocese said in a statement.

First National and International Shrine

The announcement of the Vatican’s recognition came via a letter from Rome. This confirms that the church would gain its status as of June 18, 2022.

Bishop Francisco de Leon shared this momentous news during a Mass celebrating the diocese’s 39th founding anniversary.

However, the official declaration from the Vatican had yet to reach the diocese at the time of the announcement.

Central to this recognition is the 17th-century brown-skinned Madonna, “Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje.”

This revered image has been a source of solace and inspiration. As well as hope for countless pilgrims and devotees who have visited the shrine over the centuries.

Notably, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage actively participated in a worldwide prayer marathon.

Pope Francis initiated this in May 2020 to seek divine intervention in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

This demonstrates the shrine’s commitment to its role as a place of faith, prayer, and unity during challenging times.

This recognition is a significant achievement. For the people and for the Diocese of Antipolo and the Catholic community in the Philippines.

It reaffirms the church’s profound spiritual importance and its enduring role as a symbol of peace. It also guidance to pilgrims and believers from all corners of the world.

Banner Photo by Antipolo Cathedral via website

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