Friday, 24 February 2012

'La Naval', Our Lady of the Rosary; and Monica's Prayer.......


                      “La Naval” -  Our Lady  Of The Holy Rosary 
                              Quezon City, The Philipines

Sculpted by a non-Catholic Chinese artist who subsequently converted to the Catholic faith, the image of Our Lady of the Rosary was commissioned in 1593 by the Spanish Governor of the Philippines, Luiz Perez Dasmarinas, as a memorial to his deceased father and to his own regime. The statue was entrusted to the Dominicans in Manila and was enshrined in Santo Domingo Church, where it was received with great love and devotion by all the people.

Fifty-three years later, in March, 1646, with Spain  still governing the islands, a fleet of five Dutch warships were seen approaching Manila. Holland was at war with Spain, and the Dutch fleet posed the threefold threat  of conquest, pillage, and Protestantism.  The enemy had chosen a time when Manila was undefended, there being no Spanish warships in the area.

Two commercial galleons, “The Rosary” and “The Incarnation”, were donated by their owners and  quickly fitted out in preparation for battle. While sailing to meet the Dutch aggressors, the crews prayed the Rosary and dedicated themselves to 'La Naval', Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, for whom they had a strong devotion.

The  Dutch ships were fully equipped with cannons, firearms and trained seamen; the two Spanish-Filipino cargo ships were poorly fitted with only a few guns, and a motley crew of Spanish, Filipino, and religious.  Yet by the end of the day the Dutch ships were routed and fled the area, and  the victors sailed home to a hero's welcome, praising Our Lady for her intercession and protection during this battle against a nominally stronger enemy.

During the following months the two Spanish ships continued to patrol local waters, until in July, they found themselves in a narrow strait, trapped by seven Dutch ships. Since their position did not allow them to attack, they could only wait and pray. Fearful of a forthcoming attack, the defenders vowed that if they were victorious, they would undertake a pilgrimage barefoot to the Church of Santo Domingo to thank and honour Our Lady of the Rosary.  
          Miraculously, in the fading light  the two cargo ships were  unseen by the Dutch fleet which turned towards Manila without firing a shot. This allowed the two cargo ships to follow and successfully engage the Dutch ships, forcing them once again to retreat and leave the scene. This victory was attributed entirely to the intercession and protection of 'La Naval', and on returning home the victors  gratefully fulfilled their pilgrimage vow.
After two more victorious confrontations, the cargo ships became known by the local people as  “the galleons of the miracle.”  

Yet a fifth time the Dutch fleet appeared for battle. Anxious to defend their honour and restore their pride, the Dutch were determined to win.The advantage was definitely theirs when they found the two cargo ships anchored with the wind against them. Unable to move, the two cargo ships fought where they were and again convincingly defeated the enemy, driving them away never to return. 

Through the intercession of 'La Naval', Our Lady of the Rosary, and against all the odds, the men of Her two cargo ships had defeated fifteen fully equipped warships.

This victory of Manila is similar in many respects to the great naval victory at Lepanto, which was credited to the intervention of Our Lady and the power of Her Holy Rosary. In both instances Our Lady miraculously defended and granted victory to the seamen who placed their trust in Her.

Sixteen years after the successful defence of Manila, an Ecclesiastical Council was convened in Cavite to study the unusual aspects of the five naval victories. The Council consisted of theologians, canonists, and prominent religious. On April 9th, 1662, after studying all the written and oral testimonies of the participants and eye-witnesses, the Council declared that the victories were:
"granted by the Sovereign Lord through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin and devotion to her Rosary, that the miracles be celebrated, preached and held in festivities and to be recounted among the miracles wrought by the Lady of the Rosary for the greater devotion of the faithful to Our Most Blessed Virgin Mary and Her Holy Rosary."

The decree was signed by all eight members of the Council.

The statue stands 4'8" tall and is made of hardwood, with ivory covering the faces and hands of Mother and Child. With the Christ Child on her left side, gently supported by the Virgin's left hand, Our Lady's right hand holds a sceptre with a fifteen decade gold rosary draped around the hands of both Mother and Child. Both figures are clothed in exquisite golden dresses and mantles heavily embroidered with golden thread. On the head of the Madonna rests a  magnificent crown matching the one worn by the Holy Child. Around an inner bejewelled golden aura and the crown of the Madonna, is a larger halo of gold, with sparkling jewels at the tips of the twenty-four long and short rays. 

         National Shrine of 'La Naval', Our Lady of the                                           Rosary, Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City.

'La Naval' is presently kept and honoured by the Filipino people in the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City,  designated as the national shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary. Each year the people commemorate the vow of the defenders of Manila by an annual pilgrimage to the miraculous statue to demonstrate their love for Our Lady of the Rosary, and their gratitude for the miracles of protection that took place over 350 years ago.

             Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us all, and guide and protect our Holy Father, our bishops, priests, and religious.
The following prayer was found typed on a piece of plain paper, tucked into a book belonging to my wife. I don't know the origin, but I suspect that it belonged to my wife's dear sister Monica, a brave, cheerful, and devout Catholic, always with a smile, who died some years ago after years of ill-health. Monica I'm sure is in Heaven, still with that lovely smile.
                                    Monica's Prayer
        Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and may some day be old.
        Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
        Release me from craving to try to straighten out everybody's affairs.
        Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details - give me wings to get to the point.
        I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of another's pains, help me to endure them with patience.  
       But seal my lips on my own aches and pains - they are increasing and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
       Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is just possible that even I may be mistaken.
       Make me thoughtful, but not moody;  helpful,  but not bossy;   interested in others but not a busy-body.  
       With my vast store of wisdom it does seem
a pity not to use it all -  but 
       Thou knowest, Lord, that I do want a few friends left at the end.  Amen.

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