04 December 2015
President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his gratefulness to the Holy See to recognize the great Philippine Marian devotion of Filipino Catholics in Vatican with the unveiling and blessing of the mosaic image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia shortly after his meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace.
The President said he is thankful to the Holy See for sharing this to Catholic devotees all over the world who embark on pilgrimages to the Vatican and that they can now stop and reflect in front of the mosaic image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
“For centuries, this has been a place of refuge for Catholics, and standing within it now, I am not surprised that it has brought serenity and guidance to so many members of the Church,” he said in his short remarks during the event.
Referring to the Blessed Virgin as ‘Ina”, the President said that the image is a symbol of the nation’s deep bond with the Virgin Mary, who has protected Filipinos during many of their darkest moments. He cited the overthrowing of a dictator in 1986 when people carried statues of the Virgin Mary in their shoulders and gathered under her image during the revolution.
President Aquino also mentioned the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo as a devotee who never failed to join in the annual celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City.
“And I remember, as we commemorated his life of service in his home, our heads bowed in mourning, it was the cries of “Viva la Virgen!” that raised everyone’s spirits. Indeed, it was through this humility and faith in the name of Mother Mary that we found the greatest comfort, and the strength to carry on,” according to the President.
Designed by Italian artist Roberto Cassio, the mosaic image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is one of the 14 images of the Blessed Mother that pilgrims can now visit and meditate in front and inside the Vatican Gardens. The Philippines will be the 10th country to have a representation of one of its most revered images of the blessed mother at the Vatican Gardens.
Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the Principal Patroness and Queen of the Bicol Region.
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