Jaro

I attended the 5am, Hiligaynon Mass at Jaro Cathedral (the beautiful venue of the Beup couple’s wedding) last Sunday, June 2 for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

I would like to thank my Visayan lineage for helping me understand the local dialect.

The priest gave a powerful message about the importance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in worshipping and receiving God’s grace.

Jaro Cathedral

The Jaro Cathedral is the first and only cathedral in Panay built in 1864. Patriot and orator, Graciano Lopez Jaena was here in December 20, 1856. A high point in the history of the cathedral was the visit of Blessed Pope John Paul II, who conducted a mass on February 21, 1981. He set a crown upon the Lady of the Candles, and declared it the Patroness of the Western Visayas.

As a sacrament, it is that Jesus himself acting through the Eucharist, and supplies all the graces we derive from it.

It is a celebration of this sacrifice. It is the active participation of all that come together in the place of worship. We do not come to Mass simply to receive something passively or to watch a show; we come as participants embracing the grace Christ pours out for us shed by his own blood on the cross.

The Holy Mass is about God’s love for us.

He is the God who loved the world so much he became one of us—and then loved us so much that he stays with us in this small white host during communion, this slender shadow of who he really is.

He is not here for the rich and the powerful, the mighty and the famous.

He is here for the small and defenseless, the overlooked and forgotten. He is here for all who are broken, all who feel defeated, all who need healing and hope.

He appears so small.

But in that smallness is greatness beyond measure.

Because only a great God like ours could become bread to feed our souls and nourish our hearts and give us the grace to go on.

Mark Segador from Panay Island blog shared that one of Iloilo City’s cherished icons was the the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, which was also the center of faith in the region for centuries. Now restored and preserved, this architectural beauty defined the landscape of Metro Iloilo with its unique triangular facade, and its campanile located across the street. The church’s Romanesque revival-inspired design is seen in its intricate design and the red-roofed dome.

A distinct feature of the church is the all-male santos on its columns – an answer to Molo Church’s feminist theme. Though the church is the home of the Our Lady of Candles, it is dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

Because of its importance to Iloilo’s religious and cultural heritage, the Jaro Cathedral was proclaimed by the National Historical Institute as a historical landmark in 1976. The cathedral was named as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles (Nuestra Señora De La Candelaria) for being the center of Marian devotion in the Visayas.

The present cathedral was inaugurated on 1874 during the annual celebration of the Feast of the Candelaria. It is the first cathedral in the island of Panay.

Housed inside the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral complex is the stone image of Our Lady of Candles. The origin of the image itself had been said to be miraculous. Folk stories say that the image found in the shores of Iloilo River by a fisherman was about only a foot tall. It was so heavy that nobody can carry it; only when the people decided to bring the image to Jaro Church was one person able to successfully lift it.

Strange happenings surround the image and many believe that the Señora is miraculous.
In the olden days, people say that she has a habit of disappearing early in the morning and was spotted as a beautiful lady with long flowing hair bathing her son in a well found in the middle of the plaza. At the same time, a mist would cover her niche in the cathedral.

Another well known story is that before the Pacific War, the Señora’s place in the cathedral was engulfed in total darkness for days. When it dissipated, the image had miraculously grown larger.

Today, the image is already about 5 feet tall (almost larger than its previous niche) and many believe that it’s still growing. If faith can move mountains, can it make statues grow?

On February 1981, Pope John Paul II personally canonically crowned the image of Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria – the only Marian image in the country bestowed with such honor by the Holy Father.

Held every 2nd day of February, the Fiesta de la Candelaria (Feast of Our Lady of Candles) is one of Iloilo’s most important religious events.

It is celebrated with blessings of candles, Masses, processions, and other less holy events such as feasts, grand balls in which a festival queen, usually a beauty from a prominent Jaroleño family is crowned, and grand cockfights attended by aficionados from all over the country.

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