Immaculate Conception in the Philippines: Introduction, Celebrations, and the Things You Can Do
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception honours the Virgin Mary, who had led a good life since she was born. She was chosen to conceive and be the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. According to the Holy Scripture, God had given Mary immunity over sin, making her “immaculate,” which means “pure and innocent” during her first moment of conception.
What is Immaculate Conception in the Philippines All About?
In the Philippines, December 8 is a public holiday in celebration of the Immaculate Conception Feast.
Catholic churches in the Philippines commemorate Immaculate Conception with special attention and sacred ceremonies.
In 1942, Mary was proclaimed a Patroness of the Philippines by the label of the Immaculate Conception. The feast means that during Jesus’s conception, she was blameless and innocent. That’s that reason most believers have a strong devotion towards her and attribute most miracles to her.
On March 29, 2017, the House of Representatives of the Philippine Government approved Bill # 5241. Then, the bill declares December 8 as a non-working regular holiday, in honour of the Virgin Mary.
Things You Can Do During Immaculate Conception in the Philippines
Since December 8 is a holiday throughout the Philippines, it became a day for many celebrations.
Mary Immaculate is Patroness to many towns in the country. People attended a mass and have colourful festivities to enjoy. They march the street playing brass bands with ancient, and compelling music. Furthermore, flags with images of the Virgin Mary are afloat.
Many graduates also come home and revisit their former school and spend a meaningful day with their old teachers and classmates.
It’s an obvious fact that the Immaculate Conception celebration is somehow relevant to our tradition of celebrating “Mother’s Day.” So it would be a great day for family gatherings with mothers as the centre of attention.
How the Immaculate Conception in the Philippines is Celebrated
The feast of the Immaculate Conception is a one-day festivity. Filipinos usually begin the celebration on the first Sunday of December. During this time, Manila’s ancient walled city is flooded with hundred portraits of the Virgin Mary in one parade.
Led by the Cofradía de la Immaculada Concepción, several portraits of the Blessed Virgin Mary from different areas of the country are featured in a holy parade. Obviously, the parade’s name is the “Great Marian Parade.”
A military brass band accompany devotees, dressed in white, as they march around the historic walled city, Intramuros.
The parade showcases the country’s leading prominent Marian images. A carriage typically covered with flowers and candles, known as “carrozas,” carries the portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Remember, it is not about how grand the celebration is, not about the bands, the images, the carriages, and so on. It is about showing devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Immaculate Conception’s celebration is a sacred day of commitment for Catholics. They should attend a mass and stop whatever work they have for commemorating Mary’s virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Venues and Special Events for Celebrating the Immaculate Conception in the Philippines
Attending the Immaculate Conception Vigil at Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral
Attending an Immaculate Conception ceremony at Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral is a perfect way to introduce to the younger ones the tradition of lighting a special candle in the gratitude of Mary.
The candle demonstrates Isaiah’s words, “A rod shall come forth out of Jesse’s root, and a flower shall rise out of this root.”
An elegant candle covered of white linen tied with a cord is placed inside a candlestick holder during the vigil. The devotees put the candle in front of Our Lady’s portrait, sculpture, or figure where members of the family gather to pray to the Mother of Jesus.
Such medieval practice teaches its lesson, which the younger generation can easily understand.
Celebrating the Immaculate Conception in the Cathedral of Malolos
Churches across the country, especially the Malolos Cathedral, also known as the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, celebrate the feast with great devotion. They go a long way to honour its Patroness.
The cathedral is famous in Bulacan for its convent that serves as a presidential place for Emilio Aguinaldo during his term as president of the Philippines.
Beautiful white flowers cover the cathedral. Furthermore, devotees place the Virgin Mary’s image above the cathedral’s altar. Churchgoers always visit and honour Jesus’s mother with the picture.
Visiting Simala Shrine at Sibonga Cebu
Sibonga is renowned for its Virgin Mary palace-like temple. In 1998, there was an outbreak of Dengue in the region. A Martin Monk of Eucharistic Adoration approached the parish bishop to perform a nine-day sacramental rosary march to pray for the Virgin Mary’s intervention.
Villagers began to scent flowers even when the land was sparse, and on September 8, the sculpture of the Virgin Mary shed tears. Those that suffered from dengue healed unexpectedly, and since then, devotees have rallied to pray on the image.
The palace-like temple has been reconstructed. Until now, thousands of believers of the Virgin Mary have paid homage to the temple.
Unwind at Minor Basilica of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Manaoag, Pangasinan
The Group of religious leaders governs this small cathedral within the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. It is the birthplace of the sacred 17th-century sculpture of Our Lady of Manaog. It has been crafted in ivory with garments woven with jewels and was placed at the main altar.
Present time miracles associated with the Lady of Manaoag are quite popular, supported by devotees’ testimonies, and published widely through recommendations from friends, newspapers, and myths. Even believers from far away land seek the Our Lady’s divine guidance in times of desperate need.