MANILA, Philippines - In Zamboanga City, Muslims and Christians venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Our Lady of the Pillar. Such devotion is evident during the feast day of the Virgin on Oct. 12. Fr. Max Rodriguez, CMF, says in his book ?Our Lady of Pilar: Heritage of Zamboanga? there is something unique in the devotion to the Virgin Mary by the Muslims in Zamboanga and nearby regions. He explains that the veneration of Mary is indicated in the Holy Book of Koran.
The Zamboangueños mark the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar on Oct. 12 at Fort Pilar, which they call the shrine. Father Rodriguez, a Claretian priest for the past 45 years in Zamboanga, writes:
?The Spaniards built the fort in 1635 to thwart attacks of pirates. The fort was then named the Real Fuerza de San José. The image of Our Lady was brought to Zamboanga in 1734 from Zaragoza, Spain, where she is its patroness. Then, and until 1899, the fort was renamed the Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zamboanga. After its occupation by the Americans, they simply named it Fort Pilar.
?Our Lady of the Pillar of Zamboanga was named after Our Lady of Pillar of Zaragoza. This came about as a result of a decision made by the Spanish ?Cortes? (parliament) to choose the Virgin of the Pillar as the patroness of the entire kingdom and its possessions overseas in 1678.
?Since then, the presence of Our Lady of the Pillar at her shrine in the fort has been watching over the city in a very special way. She is the same Mary standing in mid-air over the Basilan Strait on Sept. 21, 1897, as seen by many. According to those who saw the apparition, she had her right hand raised to signal the onrushing waves to stop, saving the city from a tsunami.?
Tradition reveals the Virgin Mary appeared to a soldier on Dec. 6, 1734, at the gate of the city. Not recognizing her, the soldier asked her to stop. Then, he recognized her and fell down to his knees.
The fort has been dedicated to her since.
A procession from the Cathedral to the Fort Pilar Shrine will be held Oct. 3, 5 a.m., followed by a Mass to be celebrated by Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles at 6 a.m. Novena Mass at 5 p.m. is until Oct. 11. Schedule of Masses at the Shrine on Oct. 12 is as follows: 4 a.m., Diana/Holy Rosary; 6 a.m., Holy Mass by Fr. Moises Cuevas;
8 a.m., Fr. Sulpicio Soliva;
10 a.m., Fr. Jonathan Berdejo;
4 p.m., grand possession from cathedral to shrine; 5 p.m., Pontifical Mass officiated by Archbishop Valles; and 6:30 p.m., by Fr. Sergio de la Noche.
In Metro Manila, devotees attend the nine-day Novena Masses Oct. 3-11, 6 p.m., in Malate Church. An image of Our Lady of the Pillar is enthroned below the icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help during the novena. On Oct. 12, 8 a.m., the image is brought in a procession from Malate Church to the Aristocrat where Mass is celebrated and breakfast given. The event is sponsored by La Communidad Zamboangueña. Members of Hermandad Zamboangueña that gives scholarships to college students also attend. The Hermandad will hold a fund-raising dinner dance at Manila Polo Club Oct. 24, according to Linda Atayde.
Danny Dolor conceptualized the benefit dinner musical ?Serenade - My Heart is Thy Voice,? in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados, Sept. 30, 6 p.m., at Hotel InterCon Ballroom. Presented by Cofradia de la Inmaculada Concepcion to mark its 29th year, the concert features sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Camille Lopez, tenor Lemuel de la Cruz, baritone Noel Azcona with Mary Ann Espina as pianist.
Committee-in-charge is headed by Helen Ong with Dr. Jaime Laya, Danny Dolor, Fe Rodriguez and Alice Briones, Aurora Eizmendi. Imelda Cojuangco and Marietta Santos are members.
Proceeds will be used for the restoration of the ?camarin? of Our Lady of the Abandoned.
The Eucharist and St. Paul
The conversion of Saul of Tarsus into Paul the Apostle was marked by his realization of the divinity of Christ. Fr. Archie Cortez, before the Servants of the Risen Christ, says, ?As Paul the Apostle continued to preach the good news about God?s Kingdom, he believed more and more that Jesus is in the Eucharist.? He preached to the early Christians the divinity of Christ.
?The Eucharist and St. Paul? is the theme of the 21st Eucharistic Congress on Nov. 29, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., at the Pink Sisters Convent along Hemady St., New Manila. Organized by the Pink Sisters and the Eucharistic Adorers? League, this year?s speakers are: Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, national director of the Pontifical Mission; Fr. Roderick Salazar, SVD, president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines; and Fr. Apolinario Ty, SSS, rector of the Eymard Formation Center.
The Sta. Teresita del Niño Jesus Parish on Mayon St., Quezon City, celebrates its fiesta Sept. 28 with a concelebrated High Mass at 10 a.m. Main celebrant is Iligan Bishop Joseph Nacua, first Filipino Capuchin bishop.
The relic of St. Therese will be brought to different parishes in a pilgrimage led by Fr. Rolly Gonzaga, parish priest. The schedule: Sept. 14, 4 p.m., St. Joseph Worker Parish, Edsa Cloverleaf, QC; Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m., Holy Redeemer Parish, Masambong, QC; Sept. 16, 6 p.m., at Sta. Perpetua Parish on D. Tuazon St., QC; Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m., Immaculate Conception Parish, Damar Village, QC; Sept. 18, 6 p.m., Santuario de San Pedro Bautista, SFDM, QC; and Sept. 19, 6 p.m., Sta. Teresita de Niño Jesus Parish.
This is a project of the parish and Society of the Little Way, composed of men and women who propagate the devotion to St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
A seminar on ?Liturgical Music and Pastoral Needs? is set Sept. 20, 8:30 a.m., at Alberione Center on 206 G. Araneta Ave. in Barangay Doña Imelda, QC. Call Sister Graziella at 7160075 or 7156344.
For the pearl anniversary of the Canonical Coronation of Nuestra Sra. de la Soledad de Porta Vaga, an exhibit of images is ongoing at the Convento of the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Gen. Trias, Cavite, until Sept. 20.
Fr. Zenki Manabat, rector of Batanes seminarians, will speak during the 11th anniversary celebration of the Theotokos Prayer Mission on Sept. 20, 7 a.m.-
3 p.m., at Seraphic Hall of Lourdes Church on Kanlaon St.