Monday, August 22, 2016

Our Lady of Salvation: Patroness of Albay

Our Lady of Salvation, also known as Our Lady of Light, is the much-venerated image of the Blessed Virgin, who was crowned by the Roman Catholic Church as the patroness of the province of Albay, Philippines.


The role of the Virgin as the Co-Redemptrix is manifested in the original wooden image of Our Lady of Salvation. In her left arm, the Virgin holds the Child Jesus, while her right arm grasps a man who is seemingly about to fall into the clutches of Satan. Meanwhile, an angel kneels at the foot of the Virgin, just below the Child Jesus, who offers a basket of burning hearts to the Holy Child. The Child Jesus, in turn, also holds a burning heart in his right hand, and extends his left hand to accept the offering of hearts.

The majestic wooden image had first been first revered in the seaside barangay of Joroan, located in the town of Tiwi, Albay. The story of this particular Marian devotion begins in the 1770s, when the Buhinon haciendero named Don Silverio Arcilla appointed a certain tenant, Mariano Dakuba, to one of his estates in Joroan, which was then a satellite barrio of Buhi. While Dakuba had been clearing the hacienda, he stumbled upon a big Calpi tree, which he had attempted to cut down. However, as if by a miracle, the leaves had stayed fresh and would not wilt, despite the fact that the tree had already been severed at the base for a long time.

Awed by the miracle of the Calpi tree, the pastor of Buhi then decided that a sculptor named Bagacumba fashion an image from the trunk. Three images had been created in total: an image of St. Anthony of Padua, another of Our Lady of Solitude, and one of Our Lady of Salvation. An agreement was made on August 25, 1776 that the image of Our Lady of Salvation would be lent to Joroan, under the condition that a chapel would be constructed at the center of the barrio in honor of the Virgin.

Since then, many miracles had been attributed to the 240-year-old image of the Blessed Virgin. The barrio of Joroan was then jeopardized by Muslim bandits. At that time of peril, the residents would come to the image of Our Lady of Salvation, seeking protection through their prayers offered to the Virgin.

Many had already claimed to be witnesses of the image’s power. Through the years, various miracles attributed to the image had been reported. Reinforced by the reported miracles, the devotion to Our Lady of Salvation continues to grow stronger up to this day. The Church of Our Lady of Salvation was declared a holy pilgrimage site, attracting devotees from far-away lands. Eventually, the image had been given the title “heavenly patroness of Albay.”
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