Whoever thought that once upon a time, in the pre-war Manila Cathedral, a statue of Don Bosco’s Madonna had been enshrined in one of its side chapels?
Photos are courtesy of Mr. Alexander Amora Juni.
No one perhaps.
But if there is one thing that is most fascinating in the recent re-enthronement of the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Help of Christians (MHC) in her very own chapel last Saturday, 20 February, is that MHC is deeply venerated in one of the most historic churches of Catholic Philippines.
Hence, when the news came out that the MHC image would be re-enthroned, the members of the Salesian family along with devotees of the Blessed Mother under this title came in droves, packing the Manila Cathedral full.
No less than His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, presided the Holy Mass. He also led the rites of the re-enthronement of our Lady. In his homily, he thanked the “wide and dynamic Salesian family” for this “homecoming,” and clarified that “Mary did not leave the Cathedral for she never leaves any home. Symbolically, “This re-enthronement makes us feel more at home since we have an assurance that our Mother is our Helper, too.”
After the post communion prayer, Fr. Paul Bicomong, SDB, Provincial Superior of the Salesians in the FIN Province thanked the Cardinal, and the rector of the Manila Cathedral Fr. Reginald Malicdem for their solicitude.
Months ago, Fr. Malicdem immediately said yes to the request of Fr. Remo Bati, SDB, director of the Marian Affairs of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians if he could grant them the possibility of having the MHC image re-enthroned in the Cathedral.
The rector, noting the historic value of the event, suggested to invite Cardinal Tagle to preside the celebration. Fr. Bati heeded the suggestion, wrote the Cardinal, and similarly, he also received an immediate affirmative response.
In the event, Fr. Bati honored two Don Bosco alumni for their contribution in helping make the event possible: Mr. Tom Joven (DB Academy Pampanga) and Mr. Nolan Angeles (DB Mandaluyong). Mr. Joven was recognized because he was the one who carved the image. He did it for free. On the other hand, Mr. Angeles was recognized for his effort to help in spreading the devotion to Mary Help of Christians.
Mr. Nolan Angeles receiving the plaque from the Cardinal. Photo from the FB Page of Mr Angeles.
After the Mass, the statue was brought in procession to the side chapel dedicated to Her. One enthroned, the Cardinal led the prayer composed by St. John Bosco himself to MHC. The congregation sang in chorus “O, Help of Christians.”