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Our Lady Of Sorrow (San Andres, Catanduanes)

History of “Our Lady of Sorrows” in Batong Paloway

The early years of 1900 was still a transition period for the Filipinos for more than 300 years of Spanish  colonization to the new government of the United States of America. At this time, religious fervor was still deeply ingrained in the people, the aftermath of the Spanish influence. Mostly were Christians (until this day) they believed and embraced as their religion, the Christianism.

The years between 1900-1910, found the town of Calolbon feeling the strains of the transition. The people slowly adjusted the new era, hoped for the lesser cruelty and prayed for a total change.Religion at that times was their consolation, their weapon and solace toward off evils, their source of hope for a better place to live in only through the power of prayers that their wishes be granted. Religious as they were, the families did not miss a single day reciting the Angelus at six o’clock in the morning and in the evening.By nature, the natives were resilient, hardworking and God-fearing. Their means of living primarily came from farming, supplemented fishing. This was the picture of Calolbon and its people, where graft and corruptions and various crimes were unheard of.

It was harvest season (October to November), the people were busy harvesting the palay. One late morning, another happening was in the making. Pacio Socao, together with his companion, was herding carabaos in the Culapnit, afew kilometers away from the Poblacion. After placing their carabaos in a grassy plain, Pacio started to look for a place where he might rest, and he chose an “Iba” tree commonly called kamias. When he started to climb, he was attracted by a luminous object sparkling light under 10:00 o’clock in the morning sun. He picked the object and saw a picture of a face of an echanting woman printed in a hard stone. He showed it to his companion and remarked that it might be an “aswang” or some evil spirit, so Pacio threw the stone and it landed near in carabao mud-hole (lab-ogan) surrounded by thick bushes and guava trees. For a moment, the incident was forgotten by two boys.
One afternoon before they went home, pacio went near the same Iba tree and there he saw again stone with a picture and put it in his pocket. They then started to go home. When he reached home, he kept the picture up between the nipa shingles roof of their house. Early in the evening, his mother was surprised to saw the shimmering light coming from the roof . She called Pacio and requested him to see what the light was. Pacio obeyed and found out that it was the stone he inserted. His mother, Maria commonly known as Bengge, kept the image inside their trunk, a box like wooden container for clothes and valuables. At this point, Bengge remembered, she with other people in the field harvesting rice, heard loud ringing of church bells from nowhere and this she believed was when Pacio found the image.

A few later, they started to smell a rare sweet odor, the fragrance of it does not resemble nor equal to the sweetest scent of blooming flowers in the morning. They later discovered that sweet odor was emanating from the trunk where the image was kept. They put out the image and enthroned her on their altar. The picture started to radiate more beautifully, with her forehead prominently and partly covered by a blue white veil. A mole is sometimes seen on the forehead and many have seen the image wink. The lady has long eyelashes which made her even prettier.

Natives of the place were ready to accept the apparition yet reluctant to openly manifest it, had it not been for the first wave of the pilgrims coming from the different coastal towns of Camarines and Albay. These people rode in sailing boats called “Parao”. With them, were sick people whoe were carried in hammocks. Asked why they came, they all answered, they were sick and they can only be healed by Maria. A middle aged woman, nicknamed “Bengge” came to their houses to ask for alms and many form of material aid, so she can start building an Ermita in honor of “Our Lady of Sorrows” (Nuestra Seniora de Dolor).  The replay of the pilgrims surprised he natives for never had Bengge travelled far to reach the mainland, except the places within the confines of Calolbon.

Wave after the wave of people the normal, the infirmed and the sick from distant towns of Catanduanes and the mainland came bringing with them the nipa shingles rattan, money, rice, oil and animals like pigs, carabaos and many more. They prayed before the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, Pacio was asked to massage the afflicted parts of the sick people. Some got leaves, stem and branches, barks, and roots of Iba tree and used it as medicine. Many of them got cured and relieved. The relief and cure of the sick was evident. No doubt, to these people it was a miracle.

For so many months, many sick went there and donations, as days passed is now enough to build a chapel on the spot where the miraculous picture was found. The place was at that time called Culapnit (now part of Batong Paloway). When the venerated miraculous image of Our Lady of Sorrows was enshrined there, another miracle happened. At the base of the Iba tree (foot of the altar), there came out a spring of clear water. At that time, Iba tree was almost extinct down to its deepest roots and with no more parts of the tree to get as medicine, perhaps Our Lady of Sorrows could only explain the occurrence. The water from the spring was curative. There were instances of miracles experienced by those who came to the place where the miraculous picture was.
The picture of Our Lady of Sorrows is perfectly glued and laminated to a hard stone small in size, the other side with a flat surface. The picture seemed laminated and the texture is indeed smooth with glossy surface. The image now is properly adorned in a glass frame and put in the Ermita where devotees go and pray and offer masses.

Meanwhile when the miracle of Our Lady of Sorrows was known far and wide, the family who found the image lived in abundance. They had tray of coins and baskets of donations, unfortunately, their wealth and abundance became their obsession, and they spent money for luxury. They even defied the order of the parish priest not to slaughter pigs and carabaos as it was the eve of the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul. The priest was furious and ordered that the image should be brought to the town and be enshrined in the town’s church.Another miracle was when the image was brought to the town and presented to the priest in the convent. From nowhere was water that dropped in front of the image of Our Lady of Sorrows forming a cross.

The picture of Our Lady of Sorrows remained for a long time in the Parish Church. Only during the start of the Novena in preparation of the Barrio Fiesta that the venerated image of Nuestra Señora de Dolor was permitted to be brought back at her original place with a condition to be returned after the “Celebra”. Even then, many people flocked to Batong Paloway during the feast day celebrated in December.

The picture of Our Lady of Sorrows remained for a long time in the Parish Church. Only during the start of the Novena in preparation of the Barrio Fiesta that the venerated image of Nuestra Señora de Dolor was permitted to be brought back at her original place with a condition to be returned after the “Celebra”. Even then, many people flocked to Batong Paloway during the feast day celebrated in December.

The image was returned only during the term of Rev. Fr. Andres tablizo in 1938-1941 upon the appeal of the natives of Batong Paloway. These people were insistent to get back their patroness, Our Lady of Sorrows for they experienced and witnessed bright rays of light coming from their altar at the chapel. This happened usually after six in the evening. These signs were enough to strengthen the natives’ rights to claim for their own patroness. The ,miracles perhaps of later times were only felt and receievd by thosw who came and prayed and favors were granted. However, i subsequent years, for many felt and received relief and thorough recovery, the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows did not wane. Despite the absence of documented events and experiences on the miracles and favors granted to the faithful, still devotees flock to the place where she resides. Friday is the special day preferred for it was the day when the stone was found.

Note:Photos are my own shots.

*This article is the exact article posted at Batong Paloway Church as of today.

*Shared from the blog of “My Bicol, My Calolbon” http://mybicolmycalolbon.blogspot.com/2012/02/history-of-our-lady-of-sorrows-in.html


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