Story of Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1898, in a grotto at Massabielle at Lourdes in Southern France, Our Lady appeared to fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl. From that day until July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared eighteen times to Bernadette with seemingly gentle instructions, emphasizing penance and encouraging prayers for conversion of sinners. She also left a flowing stream dug by Bernadette near the grotto which to this day is attributed as an instrument of miraculous healing. Our Lady also instructed Bernadette to “tell the Priests that people should come here in Procession and that a chapel should be built on the site.” Our Lady finally revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation.

Since the apparitions in 1848, so many healing miracles occurred in Lourdes. In 1862, the bishop of Tarbes officially declared the apparitions as supernatural and divine. Pope Pius IX approved the veneration in Lourdes and supported the building of the Cathedral in 1870. He promoted Marian piety in Lourdes by granting special indulgences and the formation of local Lourdes Associations.

Bernadetted joined the orfer known as the sisters of Charity and Christian association in Nevers on July 28, 1866 where she spent the rest of her life until her passing on April 16, 1879 at the age of 35. Pope Pius XI canonized Bernadette Soubirous on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1933.


Ang debosyon ng mga Pilipino: Historical event highlights of Our lady of Lourdes in the Philippines

May 8, 1892

First chapel opened by the Capuchins to the public. The chapel was actually devoted to Divina Pastora.

September 1892

Rev. Fr. Berardo de Cieza (Superior of the Central House) requested Mr. Manuel Flores to sculpt an image of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The statue was meant to be placed in the grotto of the garden, however because of its exquisite beauty the people felt that it would be a pity to leave it exposed to the elements of nature, thus, Fr. Berardo of Cieza prepared a side altar within the chapel to place the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

February 1893

First Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes

D. Regino Garcia – great devotee of the Virgin of Lourdes and founder of the Archonfraternity; initatiated the idea of having a devotion to the Virgin of Lourdes in Manila.

May 23, 1893

Superior Rev. Fr. Berardo de Cieza asked His Excellency Mons. Bernardino Nozaleda, OP, Archbishop of Manila, to establish a confraternity.

September 15, 1893

Archbishop gave out a decree declaring canonically erected and founded the chapel of Capuchins the confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, approved as well all the graces corresponding such religious society.


A second image was sculpted by Mr. Manuel Flores, a famous Filipino Sculptor with the guidance and cooperation of Fr. Antonio of Valencia. Carmen Macam paid Mr. Flores for the image. This second statue was even more beautiful and was placed in the side altar of the chapel on February 10, 1896.

November 1896

Martina Azucena was miraculously cured from her incurable illness in front of the statue.

September 1897

The primitive chapel of the Capuchins was planned to be expanded to accommodate the growing pious exigencies of the devotees. The plan was spearheaded by Engr. D. Jose Garcia Moron, Doña Pelagia Velasquez, Doña Carmen Macam and their enthusiasm to spread the novena to the Virgin of Lourdes.

Expansion of the chapel was initiated by Architect D. Federico Soler from the donation of Mr. Moron for the love and devotion to the Virgin of Lourdes.


Outbreak of the Spanish-American War, moments of anguish waiting of the deadline for surrender was already at hand. Rev. Fr. Alfonso of Morentin, the present Superior of the Capuchin Fathers during that time, prostrated before the venerated image of Lourdes in the name of the whole capuchin community, gathered at the chapel for the pious exercise of flowers of May, promised solemnly to the Virgin of Lourdes to dedicate to her the new church that they were building if she would save the house and the city of Manila from the terrible destruction of the announced bombing by the Americans.

Deadline of surrender came, May passes away, war was over, Manila did not suffer the fearful effects of the bombs of the Military Fleet of Dewey. Indeed the help and powerful protection from Mary was attained. Fr. Morentin, being faithful to his promise, consecrated to the Virgin of Lourdes the new church. The image of the Virgin of Lourdes was venerated at the main altar and "Te Deum" was solemnly sung at the same time. The Virgin of Lourdes was officially proclaimed the Titular of the Church of the Capuchins, obtained from Rome on February 3, 1897.

September 24, 1898

Due to the increasing devotion and alms of the faithful, the energetic Fr. Alfonso of Morentin, put in the high altar the image of Our Lady of Lourdes.

October 13, 1905

Arrival of visitor general, Fr. Daniel of Arbacegui gave the solicited permit to Fr. Morentin the authorization to begin the works of extension and embellishment of the church

January 1908

First Procession of the Virgin of Lourdes was held.

Fr. Rector during the time asked for suggestions to do something extraordinary on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Apparitions. An illustrious catholic writer, Mr. Manuel Ravago stood up and in brilliant exposition defended that it is most opportune extraordinary thing would be to organize a big procession on the last day of the novena. This has been done every year with multitude of people joining up to this time.

February 3, 1910

The new church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, exclusively built with the contribution of the faithful was inaugurated. The new church was the glorious coronation of the efforts and aspiration of the devout people of the Philippines to the Virgin of Lourdes.

Remembered Alfonso of Morentin – the soul and life of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes

The Crown of the Virgin of Lourdes

Some ladies began to campaign for funds to make a wonderful crown for the Virgin of Lourdes. Great enthusiasm supported the campaign. Jewels, diamonds and big sum of money were voluntarily offered to pay the cost of the new crown. The artistic work of the crown was entrusted to the famous artists Pablo and Ventura D. Gabriel. It was done with great love and care, wholly of pure gold. The starts that surrounded the crown are all diamonds and jewels, all of it legitimate and of great value. During the Japanese-American War, this crown was saved together with the treasure of the Virgin of Lourdes. It was deposited in the Agencia de Empeños of Raimundo Samlonga in Binondo. However, at the end of the war, the Sacred Congregation authorized the selling of the treasure to build the new Lourdes Church in Quezon City.

The Tragedy of Intramuros

It was during the Novena at Our Lady of Lourdes when the Japanese ordered all residents of Intramuros to go out of their houses and gather together at the four (4) main places of Intramuros: the Hollywood Theater, the San Agustin Church, the San Francisco Church and the Cathedral. Our Virgin of Lourdes and all the most necessary things were transferred from to altar to the receiving room of the convent of San Agustin Church. On February 11, the Feast of the Virgin of Lourdes, the capuchins and devotees appealed to the Japanese for permission to say 3 masses in the sacristy. The permit was granted, allowing 3 Superiors celebrating 3 masses for the feast: Franciscans, Augustinians and the Capuchins.

Protecting the Image of Lourdes

Many people especially the devotees of Lourdes cried out to the capuchins to see the beautiful Virgin of Lourdes wondering how it was saved. According to history, when the capuchin brothers abandoned the church of Lourdes, Intramuros and the central house, they carried with them the image of Lourdes. Some days later, the Capuchin Custos, ,Fr. Florencio of Lezaun, gathered all religious articles: chalices, ciboriums, monstrances, relics and the treasure of the Virgin of Lourdes: crowns, rosaries and jewels. All together they put in iron box at the bank of D. Raimundo Salonga in Binondo.

For the refuge of the Capuchin brothers, they were ordered by their superior to go to San Agustin and placed the images of Lourdes in the wide sacristy of the church. They continued on the daily novena exercises together with the religious of other orders and devotees including Doña Martina Azucena who was miraculously cured in 1896 before the image of Our Lady of Lourdes.

On February 23 of the same year, the image of Lourdes was abandoned in the sacristy of St. Augustine. Men young and old and the religious were horribly massacred by the Japanese sometime between January 5-19. Around 3500 women and children and all other refugees of St. Augustine were ordered to abandon the building.

March of the same year, the capuchins with the help of Fr. Mc Carthy, an Augustinian priest, brought the image of Lourdes to the University of Santo Tomas. During Palm Sunday of the same year, the image of saints are covered with veils by the Dominicans including the image of Lourdes and handed it over to the Capuchins and carried it to the chapel of Santa Teresita for the celebration of Flores de Mayo. It was from this small church that Fr. Bienvenido of Arbeiza started all over again: reorganizing the Archonfraternity, contacting the different sodalities scattered all over the Philippines, continuing to honor Our Lady and solemnly celebrating her novena and her feast, and, in 1946, reviving in her honor the beautiful procession which had not been held since 1910.

February 9, 1946, the Capuchins obtained the official authorization from the government to restore the church of Lourdes in Intramuros. An official letter indicating the approval of the church and its condition, a plan of the church building was approved and signed on February 17, 1946. However, the Capuchins decided to build a beautiful and wide church in Quezon City, Retiro St. because Intramuros was a deserted place, abandoned by people and nobody’s land. The property of Intramuros where the Church of Lourdes and the Central House was sold to support the building of the new church at Quezon City.

Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes 1946 (Sta. Teresita Parish)

Pontifical Mass of Mons. Olano. Before the mass, Father Superior of the Capuchins gave a fervent talk and exactly 12:00 noon, Angelus was prayed followed by the Holy Mass. The wife of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Doña Trinidad de Roxas assisted at the Novena and one of the days even the President himself attended the mass.

January 30, 1950

Laying of the cornerstone and solemnly blessed by Mons. Olano. Immediately the work of construction under the direct supervision of Engineer and contractor, Mr. Marquez. The works of the front altars and walls are advanced already and it looks very similar to the convent of San Antonio in Zaragoza Spain. The construction was under the administration of Fr. Bienvenido of Arbeiza as Custos.

February 10, 1951

The newly built church of Our Lady of Lourdes received and sheltered the two statues. At 4:00 pm, the surroundings of Sta. Teresita were filled with a huge crowd. The procession from Sta. Teresita Parish to the newly constructed Our Lady of Lourdes Church lasted for one hour and a half.

In the procession we could see distributed in a beautiful order the different Catholic associations with their respective banners and colorful dresses (Legion of Mary, the members of the Confraternity of Lourdes, students of Belgian sisters, representations of the different parishes and religious institutes) before and after the Virgin like a sea of burning hearts.

As the "carroza" of silver could not go in through the main door, they were forced to get down the image from its throne of flowers and at the shoulders of 10 strong Filipinos was carried across the long central aisle of the church of the altar.

When Mons. Olano arrived at the altar and the image was placed in the provincial throne, the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament took place and Fr. Fernardo of Erasun addressed his prophetic word of fire to the crowd. Afterwards the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament followed and then the crowd sung the solemn "SALVE"

That night, Fr. Pastor of Arroyoz addressed his word to the Filipino people. Following day feast day of Lourdes, Fr. Custos blessed privately the new church in order to say mass from that day on.

August 15, 1951: The Solemn Inauguration

The archbishop of Manila, Mons Reyes was one who officiated in so solemn an occasion. The inauguration was attended by piles of people, among were many important people from Manila, the "ninongs", sponsors and benefactors, President of the Philippine Senate, Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco, a representative from the Spanish Embassy and Miss Gullon, the daughter of the Ambasssador.

Immediately after, they proceeded to the blessing and the solemn ceremony ended with the exposition of His Divine Majesty and the Eucharistic Blessing. Then, they opened the marble stone where the names of the illustrious benefactors are written, located at the back of the altar. Diplomas of the Benefactors were distributed, among which the first to receive was the old and venerable Doña Natividad de Tuazon, who generously donated to the Capuchin Order the beautiful lot of La Loma.

(Compiled by: Mary Lew Marcos)

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