Inang Birhen ng Manaoag:
Apo Baket (The Lady who calls)
History of the Devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag
Folk tradition has it that the Blessed Mother showed herself to a middle aged farmer and gave him the message on where she wanted her church to be built.
She appeared to him on a tree amidst the glow of heavenly light. Manaoag is known as a pilgrimage town, and even considered as the pilgrim center of the North.
Everyday, but especially on Saturdays and Sundays, the whole year round thousands of people flock to this town to celebrate Mass, pray the Rosary, offer flowers and light candles at the Shrine. Pilgrimages reach their peak during the Lenten and Easter seasons, during the months of May and October and on the feast of the Holy Rosary.
The center of devotion is the image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, otherwise known as Nuestra Señora de Manaoag or plainly called Apo Baket by the townsfolk. The image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag which is ivory, is enshrined in the main altar of the Church. It is several centuries old and is said to be miraculous.
Before the arrival of the Dominicans, the Augustinian missionaries erected a “Visita” at Santa Monica, (the former name of Manaoag), which they ministered from Lingayen. As early as 1600 the Augustinians had built a modest chapel in the place where the Catholic cemetery of Manaoag is now located. The chapel was turned over to the Dominicans in 1605 and was served by Dominican priests from Mangaldan. In fact the first Dominican priest to work in Manaoag mission was Fr. Juan de San Jacinto, O.P. who was the curate of Mangaldan.
It was not until 1608 that the Mangaldan mission was formally accepted by the Provincial Chapter of the Dominican Order. In 1610, Fr. Tomas Jimenez, O.P. took over the mission as the first resident priest. Due to the numerous threats of Igorot raids from the nearby mountains, the community was transferred to the present site on a hill. The Dominican started to build a large church in 1701 under the sponsorship of Gaspar de Gamboa and his wife Agata Yangta, wealthy residents from Manila who transferred to Lingayen. An expansion of the church began in 1882, but was stopped by the earthquake of 1892. The whole church with its treasures was destroyed by the fire set by the revolutionaries in May 1898. The miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was spared from the fire. It was found abandoned behind the church, and from June to October had to be kept in Dagupan for safety.
Invited by Fr. Mariano Pacis, a diocesan parish priest of Manaoag, the Dominicans returned in 1901. Under the aegis of the Order, the church’s expansion that began in 1882 was finally completed to a large extent in the year 1911-1912. The central “retablo” (altar of the Virgin) was constructed by the famed Tampinco studio in Manila. The transept (the arms of the church) was completed in 1931-1932.
The Dominicians ceded all their Pangasinan missions to the “mitre” (i.e to the diocesan clergy), with the exception of Manaoag. Spiritual administration of the Shrine in perpetuity was given to the Dominican Order by the Holy See in 1925. The image was canonically crowned in 1926. The Catholic Church, through the Holy See, officially recognized and proclaimed that Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag had granted favors and blessings to the devotees through the centuries. The old convent now houses Colegio de San Juan de Letran – Manaoag, formerly Holy Rosary Academy founded in 1946 by Fr. Teodulo Cajigal, O.P., the last Spanish Dominican in Manaoag. Since December 8, 1972, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag has been the under care of the Philippine Dominican Province.
On October 11, 2014, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was declared as Minor Basilica by His Holiness Pope Francis. The Solemn Proclamation Mass was held on February 1, 2015. On December 23, 2015 the National Museum of the National Culture Treasure. It was indeed another milestone for the Basilica. The formal unveiling ceremony of its marker was held on February 14, 2018.
Four significant murals inside the Basilica
The Apparition of Our Lady to the local farmer
The devotion to the Virgin began after a mysterious woman appeared to a middle-aged farmer. She appeared on top of a low tree surrounded by a bright light and a bore in her arms a child in one and the rosary in the other. She told the farmer of her desire that a church be built on that site where she appeared. The farmer narrated the vision to his neighbors and to the church and civil authorities. A small chapel was then built on the site. The mysterious lady was referred to by the locals as the "Birhen a managtaoag", the Virgin who calls. Hence, the town acquired its name from its shortened form, "Manaoag".
The Miracle of the Resurrected Child
One of the miracles attributed to the Virgin, which is painted on a large mural painted in the basilica, is the restoration to the life of a dead child. A certain woman from Binmaley, a town in Pangasinan, was bringing her sick child to Manaoag seeking for a cure. Unfortunately, the child expired on the way to the shrine. Nevertheless, the mother still brought her dead child to the church anyway and placed him before the image of the Virgin. She then sought the intercession of the Virgin to bring her child back to life. Immediately, the child regained his life. As a sign of thanksgiving, promised that he would serve at the Virgin’s shrine.
Another recorded miracle was the cure of a man from Dagupan who was critically ill because of a throat infection
after swallowing a fishbone. He was cured after pouring the water used to wash the face of the Virgin down to his throat.
The Miracle of the Deliverance from the Fire
During the early days of the Spanish era, animist mountain tribes posed dangers to the newly established and Christianized settlements among which was the town of Manaoag where the Virgin was venerated. These tribes would disturb the villagers by burning their settlements. One of the miracles attributed to the Virgin was the deliverance of the natives from these attacks when they sought refuge in the church. Miraculously despite the many flaming arrows shot at the edifice which was built of light materials, they were all spared. During the liberation battle of World War II, several bombs were dropped at the basilica. Miraculously, none of them exploded sparing the shrine and the town from destruction.
The deliverance from plagues, droughts and famines is also attributed to the Virgin. It is believed that the Virgin protected the crops of the farmers from the locust plague in 1698. She also interceded for the people when they asked for rain during the drought of 1706.
The 1926 Canonical Coronation
In the early 1920s, some of the images of Our Blessed Mother were canonically crowned. This means that the Church
Authorities, even the Pope, have acknowledged that the Blessed Mother has granted favors to her devotees. The Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag, Fr. Mariano Rodriguez, O.P. drafted the petition for the coronation addressed to the Holy Father, Pope Pius XI. The Bishop of Nueva Segovia, Jose Hurth, and the Dominican Provincial
Fr. Serapio Tamayo, O.P. personally appealed to the Holy Father. And permission was granted.
On April 21, 1926, the first Canonical Coronation of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was celebrated.
At 8:00 in the morning, the miraculous Image of Our Lady was brought out of the Church. And the High Pontifical Mass started.
After the mass, the Papal Nuncio, Msgr. Guillermo Piani blessed the sacred ornaments, the crown and the haloes. He took the smaller crown and placed it on the Image of the Infant Jesus, then the larger crown on the head of Our Lady.
The voice of the aging prelate was drowned as he said "Thus you are crowned by our hands-on earth, so may we also be crowned by your hands in heaven." And thus Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was canonically crowned.
Who painted those murals?