The Mystery of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria

By glory moralidad

Old leaves swept by her feet as Lola Aning stood outside the Jaro Cathedral, gazing upon the statue of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria.

“Gapati ako nga buhi na siya. [I believe she is alive],” she murmured.

Neil Armstrong once said, “mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

Well, a mystery shrouds the icon of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. Some say that the image has miraculous powers.

In 1874, when the Cathedral was to be inaugurated, the statue refused to budge from her old niche in the church. The parishioners suspected that the transfer does not appeal to the Candelaria because in the old church, she was stationed closer to her people. Bishop Cuartero, together with the parishioners, resorted to prayer. The sky grumbled, then, and lightning flashed; still the Jareños hold fast onto their prayers of the wisdom of the transfer. The Candelaria must have been moved by the people’s sincere plea, because she finally consented to the transfer. On February 1, 1874, the icon of the Madonna and Child was carried to the Cathedral in a solemn procession.

In the old days, after the transfer, the Lady had a habit of disappearing early in the mornings. A heavy mist would surround her niche at the pediment of the Cathedral and around that time, a beautiful lady with long hair could be seen bathing her child at an artesian well in the plaza, facing the old Jaro Rural Health Building.

Old Jareño dwellers have recounted taking a sip or splashing their wounds with the water and got themselves healed. Presently, a gazebo occupies the vicinity now. A fountain built nearby, named as “Tubig sang Kabuhi” (Water of Life), still flows with the water sourced from the well where the Lady once gave her Child a bath.

Sometime before World War II, the Lady’s abode was covered in pitch black for several days. When the image finally exposed itself – it has miraculously grown bigger. A healthy, thick vine was also recounted by parishioners to have grown within the abode. Words spread quickly that almost the whole nation focused itself on the miracle.

Jaro Archbishop Msgr. Alberto J. Piamonte, shared his experience with the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria – this time, the transfer from the pediment down to the balcony for the Pope’s visit. A crew led by Engr. Tantoy Locsin was asked to transfer the icon. The workers tried to bring down the Candelaria, but the chains they used broke several times. It dawned upon Engr. Locsin that they’re dealing with a Queen, and as a Queen, she must be attended to. He shared this insight to Msgr. Piamonte who without hesitation, geared up in an Archbishop’s regalia and directed the transfer. The chains did not break, and the Candelaria reached the balcony safely.

Indeed, a lot of unexplainable events followed suit that unfolded the deep veneration of not only the folks of Jaro (one which they actually celebrate every second of February), but the nation as well. This tale, however, is best left to be told in another time.

With research by Mary Joy B. Rosal. Photos by Martin Espino

Glory Moralidad founded Bata Ako Ph, which aims to bring back the lost art of storytelling to children. She has also been nominated and awarded for her work on various children's books.