Baclaran Church – National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Baclaran Church of Christ (33AD), 13 Sampaguita St, Parañaque, NCR, Filipini

Website of the Sanctuary

+63 (02) 832 1150

Open 24 hours

Baclaran Church – National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

The phenomenon of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Philippines is the thousands upon thousands of devotees that go to the Shrine 24/7. Every Wednesday thousand upon thousand make a lot of sacrifice to fulfill their devotion to our Mother.

This phenomenon all started when the Novena was begun in June 23, 1948. Since then, Baclaran was visited by thousands of people. Never did our founding Redemptorist fathers imagined that someday on this site will rise a shrine where thousands upon thousands of people from all over the country will flock day in day out.

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Perpetual Novena at Baclaran Church

Novena is the main attraction of the shrine to the thousands of devotees. Novena is the traditional and popular prayer that the thousands of devotees recite and sing together every Wednesday. A novena is a series of prayers said over nine days or nine weeks consecutively, usually in preparation for a major feast or to ask for a special favor.

Every Wednesday, the commentator announces the number of letters of petition and thanksgiving received for the past week. A chosen thanksgiving letter of the week is also read. These letters are proof of the devotees’ faith and gratitude for the perpetual help and hope that Jesus has bestowed upon them through the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Perpetual Novena: a special form of devotion

What, then is so special about a perpetual novena and how is it different from an ordinary novena? It is common knowledge that the word “novena” is connected with the number nine just as triduum is connected with the number three. Its origin may even be traced to the nine days spent by the apostles in prayer together with Our Lady after the Ascension and before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the tenth day of Pentecost.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary

What draws thousands of devotees to the Baclaran Church. It is nearly impossible to explain the deep mystery of what lies beneath every heart of the devotee that keeps them going to our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday.

Evidently, the love of God and the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual is truly experienced by the devotees, in spite of all the pains and struggles they go through in life. But if there is one clear reason for the thousands of devotees who flock to Baclaran it is the special Marian piety of the Filipino People.

Devotion to Mary is deeply embedded in Filipino culture. There is a phrase In Spanish, about the Philippines being “pueblo amante de Maria” – a people in love with Mary (bayang sumisinta kay Maria). Baclaran is the quintessential expression of this. What Baclaran is now, is because of the Filipino deep devotion to Mary. Indeed, If Filipinos are sent on mission throughout the world, our special gift in mission will be our love of Our blessed Lady.

Perpetual Novena

Novena is the main attraction of the shrine to the thousands of devotees. Novena is the traditional and popular prayer that the thousands of devotees recite and sing together every Wednesday. A novena is a series of prayers said over nine days or nine weeks consecutively, usually in preparation for a major feast or to ask for a special favor. Every Wednesday, the commentator announces the number of letters of petition and thanksgiving received for the past week. A chosen thanksgiving letter of the week is also read. These letters are proof of the devotees’ faith and gratitude for the perpetual help and hope that Jesus has bestowed upon them through the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Perpetual Novena: a special form of devotion
What, then is so special about a perpetual novena and how is it different from an ordinary novena? It is common knowledge that the word “novena” is connected with the number nine just as triduum is connected with the number three. Its origin may even be traced to the nine days spent by the apostles in prayer together with Our Lady after the Ascension and before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the tenth day of Pentecost.

HOW TO MAKE A NOVENA
No fixed rules need be laid down, generally speaking, for the making of a novena beyond that of persevering in prayer through the space of nine days. The efficacy of the novena prayers depends in great measure on the piety and devotion of the individual. The Solemn Novena in honor of our Mother of Perpetual Help consists of nine successive days of public prayer at a novena church or shrine, usually before some great feast of our Lady, such as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Perpetual Novena is so called because the public novena services are held on a specified day each week, such as Wednesday, and continue all through the year. Thus a novena of Wednesdays can be begun or concluded at any time during the year. A Private Novena can be undertaken by a family or an individual at any time.
The following suggestions will increase the fervor of your novena prayers:
1. Participate, if possible , in the public novena services, since there is added efficacy in the union of the faithful at prayer.
2. Receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion during your novena.
3. Promise our Lady an act of public gratitude, should your petition be granted; have holy Mass celebrated in thanksgiving; make your favor public for the encouragement of others; spread devotion to Mary.
4. Invite others to join in the novena services.

In today’s religious parlance, a novena is a series of prayers said over nine days or nine weeks consecutively, usually in preparation for a major feast or to ask for a special favor. The ordinary novena stops after the nine occasions until resumed the next time around, often the following year when connected with feasts, or whenever a devotee decides to resume it privately. A perpetual novena, on the other hand, is a series of nine occasions of prayer but repeated continuously. When one series is finished, it begins again. In practice it becomes an unending series of weekly sessions, usually associated with a particular day of the week, not necessarily Wednesday.

Devotion to Mary

What draws thousands of devotees to the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran
It is nearly impossible to explain the deep mystery of what lies beneath every heart of the devotee that keeps them going to our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday. Evidently, the love of God and the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual is truly experienced by the devotees, in spite of all the pains and struggles they go through in life. But if there is one clear reason for the thousands of devotees who flock to Baclaran it is the special Marian piety of the Filipino People.

Devotion to Mary is deeply embedded in Filipino culture. There is a phrase In Spanish, about the Philippines being “pueblo amante de Maria” – a people in love with Mary (bayang sumisinta kay Maria). Baclaran is the quintessential expression of this. What Baclaran is now, is because of the Filipino deep devotion to Mary. Indeed, If Filipinos are sent on mission throughout the world, our special gift in mission will be our love of Our blessed Lady.

By air
The Philippines has only six official entry points by sea, and all are all the way down south. (Namely Bongao and Turtle Islands in Tawi Tawi, Taganac and Balabac in Palawan, and Batunganding and Tibanban, Davao del Sur. These serve sea voyages from Malaysia or Indonesia, its only close neighbors.)
The most reasonable and practical way to reach Manila is by air.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport
The Philippines´ primary international airport. Terminals 1, 2, 3, 4, are not internally-connected, and require an actual drive through the crowded city streets in taxis or jeepneys. Allow lots of time for connection. Better yet, book your flights on 1 reservation so you are “protected” with continuity

Weekdays:

  • Tagalog 6:45 AM
  • English 9:30 AM
  • English 5:45 PM

Sunday:

  • Tagalog 6:30 AM
  • Tagalog 8:00 AM (Mass for the Elderly)
  • English 9:30 AM
  • English 11:00 AM
  • Tagalog 12:30 PM
  • Tagalog 2:30 PM (Children’s Mass)
  • Tagalog 4:00 PM
  • English 5:30 PM
  • English 7:00 PM

 

 

 

Weekdays:

  • 8:30 – 11:30 AM
  • 3:30 – 6:30 PM

Wednesday Confession Schedule:

  • Morning 5:30 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Afternoon 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Evening 6:00 PM – 8:00PM

Wednesdays

Novena and Masses

  • Novena/Mass Tagalog 5:30 AM
  • Novena/Benediction Tagalog 7:00 AM
  • Novena/Mass English 7:45 AM
  • Novena/Benediction Tagalog 9:15 AM
  • Novena/Benediction English 10:00 AM
  • Novena/Mass Tagalog 10:45 AM
  • Novena/Mass Tagalog 1:30 PM
  • Novena/Benediction Tagalog 3:00 PM
  • Novena/Benediction English 4:00 PM
  • Novena/Mass English 4:45 PM
  • Novena/Benediction Tagalog 6:00 PM
  • Novena/Benediction English 6:45 PM
  • Novena/Benediction English 7:30 PM

Devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help

According to tradition when handing over the Icon to the Redemptorsit in 1866. Pope Pius IX expressed the desire that they should make her known to the world. From that time until the present, devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help has spread all over the world. Thousands of copies of the Picture have been dispatched throughout the world and there are many shrines where copies of the original Icon are venerated and regarded as miraculous.

Among the best known shrines are those in Boston and New York (USA), Haiti, where Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the Patroness of the country; Santiago in Chile, Curitiba, Belém and Manaus in Brazil, Tequisquiapan in Mexico; Belfast and Limerick in Ireland; Bussolengo in Italy; Torun and Cracow in Poland; Singapore and the most famous of all in Manila (Philippines). The Perpetual Novena which began in St. Loius (USA) in 1927, has made a notable contribution to the spread of this devotion. The Novena has been called “Perpetual”, because it is held on a fixed day each week of the year. During the Novena devotions, the faithful not only say the traditional prayer, but they also present written petitions and thanksgivings for favours received. There is also a meditation on some aspect of the spiritual life.

The Baclaran Church – Architecture

The Baclaran Church – architecture is Modern Romanesque. Cesar Concio, its architect, and Jesse Bontoc, his associate, had planned a higher church with a bell tower. But because of its proximity to the airport, civil aeronautic regulations prevented them from carrying out their plan in full. In describing the architecture of the church, Fr. Lew O’Leary, the rector of the church during its construction said: “The church, the largest in the Philippines, is certainly a remarkable sight. But a very remarkable thing about this church is something not visible, namely its foundation. The church is built on land skirting Manila Bay. This land is all sand. The church, with its thick walls of reinforced concrete and its towering pillars could not be built on sand. The foundation had to rest on bedrock 29 feet below. This required the driving of creosoted, hardwood piles down to rest on the bedrock. Engineering wise, the grip of the sand on the whole 29 foot length of each pile was as important as having the pile rest on the bedrock. Just as a tightly clenched fist can grip a pencil, so the sand has a vice-like grip on each pile, thus assuring solid foundation for the church to be built on. The piles cost P52,344. The pile driving cost P10,956. The job was done by the American firm Atlantic, Gulf Pacific (AG & P). It was money well spent. Built on such solid foundation the church has withstood two very severe earthquakes with not even a crack appearing in any part of it.”

The architect of Baclaran was the well-known architect, Cesar Concio, Sr., who must be credited with such a light design for such a big space and for the good natural acoustics. Originally, it was to have a tower, but this was scuttled due to its proximity to the airport. The church is both simple and solemn, large yet intimately prayerful in atmosphere, a “populist” church in the best sense of the word. The church has a seating capacity of 2000 persons, with another 9000 standing. On each Wednesday, seven sessions of the Novena with benediction along with three novena Masses and two sung Masses are held. About 120,000 devotees visit Baclaran each Wednesday to pray the Novena. Far larger crowds attend on the first Wednesday of the month. Devotees arrive from 4.00 am and are still entering the church past midnight.

Baclaran Church – National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

The phenomenon of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Philippines is the thousands upon thousands of devotees that go to the Shrine 24/7. Every Wednesday thousand upon thousand make a lot of sacrifice to fulfill their devotion to our Mother.

This phenomenon all started when the Novena was begun in June 23, 1948. Since then, Baclaran was visited by thousands of people. Never did our founding Redemptorist fathers imagined that someday on this site will rise a shrine where thousands upon thousands of people from all over the country will flock day in day out. Indeed it was a phenomenon even a miracle, not the work of our own hands but God and Mother Mary and. Baclaran became a household name because of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and the warm affection and devotion of the Filipino people to Mary. The phenomenon of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Philippines is the thousands upon thousands of devotees that go to the Shrine 24/7. Every Wednesday thousand upon thousand make a lot of sacrifice to fulfill their devotion to our Mother.

Baclaran Church That’s Never Closed
Part of the Baclaran Phenomenon is the fact that the church is open 24 hours a day. It is a church that is never closed, not even when curfew was declared during the Marcos Martial Law era. According to Father O’Leary, permission for this was granted by Rome after being assured of ad¬equate security. Three shifts of private security guards assure good order night and day and there has never been a single case of vandalism. Perhaps the closest to a security problem ever experienced in Baclaran was on Sept. 20th, 1997, eve of the big rally against Charter Change (Cha-Cha) jointly called by former Pres. Cory Aquino and Cardinal Sin. At least three bomb scares happened in churches, one of them at Baclaran. After receiving a phone call, the chief of the security guards found a suspicious looking package behind the statue of St. Gerard Majella near the entrance of the church. (One newspaper mistakenly reported the statue to be that of St. Ignatius of Loyola!) It was a bomb and it was detonated outside in the car park causing no injury to anyone.

It is edifying to often see at night a taxi without passengers pulling up into the parking lot and the taxi driver going in for a brief prayer beforeresuming his nocturnal rounds of the city. A visiting Redemptorist Consultor General recently went to the choir loft ill the small hours of the morning and counted 150 people in the church. To be sure, some would be sleeping soundly in the benches. But others, surprisingly, could be observed praying fervently, even walking on their knees. Many of those who visit in the early morning hours come from the nightspots along Roxas Boulevard. Often these are celebrities who want to avoid the glare of the media. Some, no doubt, would be the paid entertainers themselves. After the World Youth Day held in Manila in January 1995 graced by the Pope’s presence, some Italian priests came away very impressed to have found a church that is never closed. When Pope John Paul II held his traditional meeting with the Roman clergy during Lent that year, one of them spoke about Baclaran and, to warm applause, suggested to the Pope that it might be imitated in Rome! The nearest thing to this happening in Rome is the four major basilicas, unlike the other churches in Rome, do remain open even during the holy siesta hour.

History of the Icon

The Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome is an important centre of Christian spirituality and contains the original Picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. According to popular tradition the Picture was stolen on the island of Crete by a merchant who shipped it to Rome in the XV century. It is said that during the voyage a terrible storm threatened the lives of the passengers and that thanks to the intercession of Our Lady all were saved. A short time before his death the merchant decided to entrust the Picture to a friend so that it might be given to a city Church. The friend, however, retained the Picture until he was at the point of death. Then the Virgin appeared in a dream to his little daughter and expressed the desire to be venerated in a Church between the Basilicas of Mary Major and St. John Lateran. His wife finally consigned the Picture to the Church of St. Matthew.

For three centuries it was the centre of devotion in Rome, but after the destruction of the Church of St. Matthew by Napoleon’s troops, it was transferred to the Church of St. Mary in Posterula (Rome). The Picture remained there for almost seventy years until the Redemptorists came to Rome. They were building the Church of St. Alphonsus on the former site of St. Matthew’s and became interested in the Picture. It was rediscovered thanks to a happy coincidence. Fr. Michael Marchi, a Redemptorist, recalled having seen it when he was an altar server, in one of the chapels of St. Mary in Posterula.
In 1866, after the Picture had been restored by a Polish artist, Leopold Nowotny, Pope Pius IX officially entrusted it to the Redemptorist. A year later when it was being carried in solemn procession through Rione Monti, Our Lady worked a miracle by curing a child. This is recalled by a copy of the Picture which can be seen at the church in Via Merulana.

The Meaning of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

This beloved picture may look strange to modern Western eyes. It doesn’t portray Mary as a delicate maiden with downcast eyes. Her direct gaze and strong features command our attention. We are struck by the unrealistic qualities of the figures. Jesus is the size of toddler, but his features are those of an older child. Mary and Jesus aren’t set in a scene but float against a background of gold.
This picture was painted in the Byzantine style of the Eastern Church. The purpose of this style of art is not to show a beautiful scene or person but to convey a beautiful spiritual message. Because the artist is trying to communicate something more glorious than anything in this world, the picture isn’t a realistic portrayal. A Byzantine painting is like a door. Seeing a beautiful door is nice, but who wants to just stand there looking at the door? We want to open the door and go beyond it. The door might be attractive or unattractive, but it is only a door, there to lead us into a new world. That’s how we must approach this picture. The artist, realizing that no one on earth would ever know what Mary or Jesus really looked like, and that their holiness could never be depicted in purely human terms, has portrayed their beauty and their message in symbols.

however, retained the Picture until he was at the point of death. Then the Virgin appeared in a dream to his little daughter and expressed the desire to be venerated in a Church between the Basilicas of Mary Major and St. John Lateran. His wife finally consigned the Picture to the Church of St. Matthew.
For three centuries it was the centre of devotion in Rome, but after the destruction of the Church of St. Matthew by Napoleon’s troops, it was transferred to the Church of St. Mary in Posterula (Rome). The Picture remained there for almost seventy years until the Redemptorists came to Rome. They were building the Church of St. Alphonsus on the former site of St. Matthew’s and became interested in the Picture. It was rediscovered thanks to a happy coincidence. Fr. Michael Marchi, a Redemptorist, recalled having seen it when he was an altar server, in one of the chapels of St. Mary in Posterula.
In 1866, after the Picture had been restored by a Polish artist, Leopold Nowotny, Pope Pius IX officially entrusted it to the Redemptorist. A year later when it was being carried in solemn procession through Rione Monti, Our Lady worked a miracle by curing a child. This is recalled by a copy of the Picture which can be seen at the church in Via Merulana.

Since April 26, 1866, the original picture has been preserved in the Church of St. Alphonsus, which is today an important Marian Shrine. Pilgrims come there in great numbers from every part of the world and find in the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help an oasis of prayer, a rich centre of spirituality and human friendliness. Everything helps to facilitate an encounter with the Mother of God. What do you see when you look at this picture? First of all you see Mary, because she dominates the picture and because she looks straight at you — not at Jesus, not at heaven, not at the angels above her head. She looks at you as if to tell you something very important. Her eyes seem serious, even sad, but they command attention. The eight-point star on her forehead was probably added by a later artist to represent the Eastern idea that Mary is the star that leads us to Jesus. To reinforce the symbolism, there is an ornamental four-point cross to the left of the star on her headdress.

Mary’s gaze is fixed on us, but her arms hold Jesus. In Byzantine icons, Mary is never shown without Jesus because Jesus is central to the faith. Jesus too is wearing the clothes of royalty. Only an Emperor could wear the green tunic, red sash, and gold brocade portrayed in the picture. The Greek initials to the right of the child and his halo decorated with a cross proclaim that he is “Jesus Christ.” Jesus isn’t looking at us, or at Mary, or at the angels. Though he clings to his mother, he’s looking away, at something we can’t see — something that made him run so fast to his mother that one of his sandals has almost fallen off, something that makes him cling to her for protection and love.
What would frighten a little boy, even the Son of God, so much? The figures that hover on either side of Jesus and Mary — the Greek letters above them identify them as Archangels Gabriel and Michael — provide us with the answer. Rather than carrying harps or trumpets of praise, they bear the instruments of Christ’s Passion.

On the left, Michael holds an urn filled with the gall that the soldiers offered to Jesus on the cross, the lance that pierced his side, and the reed with the sponge. To the right, Gabriel carries the cross and four nails. Jesus has seen part of his destiny — the suffering and death he will undergo. Though he is God, he is human as well and afraid of this terrifying future. He has run to his mother, who holds him close in this moment of panic, the same way she will be close by his side through his life and death. While she can’t spare him his suffering, she can love and comfort him. So why is Mary looking so intently at us instead of her child in need? Her gaze brings us into the story, makes us part of the painting and the pain. Her gaze tells us that just as Jesus ran to his mother and found refuge, so too may we run to Mary.

Her hand does not clasp the hands of her frightened son in a protective grip, but remains open, inviting us to put our hands in hers and join with Jesus. Mary knows there are many things in our lives that are dangerous and terrifying, and that we need someone to turn to in times of suffering and dread. She offers us the same comfort and love she gave to Jesus. She tells us to run to her as fast as Jesus did, so fast that we don’t even think about what we wear or how we go, just so we get there.

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