MANILA – After 72 years in hibernation, the Catholic Church in the Philippines has revived the devotion to the Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health) Novena with a Holy Mass held at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Project 6, Quezon City on Nov. 17.
More than a thousand devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary attended the concelebrated Mass, which was followed by a procession on Neptune St. and nearby subdivisions.
It was the first time in 72 years that the miraculous holy image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud was shown to the public for veneration, especially to the sick who need miraculous cures.
From this day on, the miraculous image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud will have a permanent home at the San Nicolas Parish Church in Barangay Toro.
According to Fr. Rommel L. Rubia, Nuestra Señora de la Salud was the title given to a small miraculous image of the Virgin brought by the Order of Recoletos fathers in 1634 from Mexico.
The 380-year-old image made of ivory and adorned with costly and colorful stones “was a precious gift from the Discalced (Barefoot) Carmelite nuns of Mexico to the Recollect missionaries on their way to their missions in the Philippines” in 1634, Fr. Rubia said.
Records of the long and arduous sea voyage resulted in numerous illnesses to those on board the vessel.
With no doctor on board, the Recoletos fathers prayed to God before the image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud.
“Miraculous healings occurred after praying in front of the image during the long and difficult trip from Mexico,” Fr. Rubia narrated.
It was that historic event that the holy image was given the title “La Salud” by the faithful, he pointed out.
Upon arriving in the Philippines, the image was enshrined in the Church of San Juan de Bagumbayan in 1634.
However, in 1762, an unfortunate incident took place when both the church and convent were destroyed, and the image was transferred to the Church of San Nicolas in Intramuros, Manila, drawing more devotees.
In 1945, during the great Battle in Manila, American airplanes bombed Japanese-held areas, totally destroying the city.
However, “the image of La Salud miraculously survived the bombing of the San Nicolas Church,” Fr. Rubia recounted.
The Recoletos fathers took the image and brought it to the sacristy of San Sebastian Basilica in Manila for safekeeping.
When the Vicar Provincial transferred its residence to Quezon City in 1970, he took the image with him.
In 1988, the image was handed over to the Museo Rekoleto for safekeeping.
For 72 years, the image was kept from public eye, and many thought that the miraculous image was lost or destroyed. Devotion by the faithful faded into oblivion, and people never bothered to celebrate her feast day.
“However, in December 2016, the OAR (Order of Augustinian Recollects) fathers decided to reintroduce her cult to the Filipino people, giving those afflicted with different illnesses a source of strength, comfort and hope by invoking Mary’s intercession through this marian devotion,” Fr. Rubia said.
The miraculous image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud can now be venerated by the faithful seeking healing — spiritual and temporal — at the San Nicolas Parish in Barangay Toro, Project 6, Quezon City. (PNA)