La Gran Señora, Madre y Reina de las Yslas Filipinas

In the sixteenth century, along with the arrival of the Dominican friars in the Philippines, came the devotion to the Holy Rosary. The Battle of Lepanto in 1571, where Catholic forces through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary decisively defeated the Muslim Turks threatening Christian Europe, proved to be a testimony of faith carried by the missionaries treading possible lands. With this victory and Our Lady’s protection in mind, the friars hastened to propagate the devotion to the rosary in the Philippines. Along with the rosary was her image. One of these, is the Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario, La Naval de Manila.

Brief History of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval

The Second Sunday of October is dedicated to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, La Naval de Manila. Popularly known as “La Naval”, the image was canonically crowned on October 1907 upon the orders of Pope Pius X, a first in the country and in Asia. La Naval was acknowledged as the patroness of Quezon City, and of the Philippines during her feast on October 1973.

Carved in 1593 by a Chinese artisan who later on became a convert to Catholicism, the venerated image is now enshrined at Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City, given as a gift to and under custody of the Dominicans; now considered the oldest ivory carving in the Philippines.

In 1646, when Dutch invaders tried to gain possession of the country, the image of La Naval de Manila was believed to have helped and guided the Spanish fleet. Before each of the battles, the intercession of Our Lady was fervently sought. Crew members – Spanish soldiers, religious, and Filipinos – vowed special homage to Our Lady for a victorious battle. With five battles to face against the Dutch, the Filipino and Spanish forces won despite being shorthanded with only two merchant galleons to fight eighteen Dutch warships. They vowed that if they emerged triumphant, they would make a pilgrimage to the church – barefoot.

On April 9, 1662, sixteen years after the successful defence of Manila, these five battles were proclaimed miraculous by the Cathedral Chapter of the Archdiocese of Manila. The Council consisted of theologians, canonists, and prominent religious. After studying all the written and oral testimonies of the participants and eyewitnesses, 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”

In gratitude since then, processions and novena masses in honor of the Blessed Mother have become a tradition.

The image suffered damage during the 1762 pillage of Manila by British troops and narrowly missed destruction during the bombing of Manila in 1942, where the image was originally enshrined in one of the churches in Intramuros; it was evacuated to a safer locale and by 1954, she was finally brought to her present home.



Holy Mary, at the sound of your voice, Elizabeth, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the baby in her womb leapt for joy. Visit us as you visited the home of Elizabeth. During our earthly pilgrimage towards God's kingdom, may we magnify the Lord whose greatness endures from age to age, who lifts up the lowly, fills the starving with good things, and comes to the help of His servants.

Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval, Our Mother, first disciple of your Son Jesus, intercede for us in our most earnest request (pause for a moment and offer your petition).

May we, in turn heed your unceasing call to do whatever your Son tells us to do. With your powerful intercession, we believe that what is most difficult can be done, what we have overlooked, you cannot miss, what is meaningless, bitter or painful can be transformed into fulfillment, gratitude and joy. Amen.

The Sixth Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City, declared in 2012 as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.




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