Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Reflections: Taal's Our Lady of Caysasay

 Centuries of faith and adoration, enshrined in a church made of coral stone...

Having withstood countless earthquakes and volcanic eruptions from Taal Volcano, the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay in historic Taal stands as a testament to a town's unwavering devotion and a continuous source of hope.

The church, made of coral and stone, was built around the image of Our Lady of Caysasay back in 1639, a venerated wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's said that the statue was found back in 1603 by a fisherman along the Pansipit River, believed to be one of the oldest in the country. Caught in his fishing net, the wooden image appeared waterlogged yet exuded a brilliant sheen, and immediately became the core of the town's rich history and legend.

It's been said that the holy image mysteriously disappeared countless times, only to be found near the river often flanked by the indigenous silvery kingfisher, a local bird called casay-casay where the town derived its name during the Spanish colonial era. Through the years, the town prospered along with the bustling Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, as stories of the miraculous image continued to spread.

The church is now the permanent home of the blessed image, replacing a former temporary structure built on the site where the image was found. Through the centuries, countless miracles and apparitions have been attributed to Our Lady of Caysasay, further establishing its dominant role in the town's history. 

High above the alter, the small wooden stature measuring a little more than ten inches tall, is housed in a protected enclosure for all to see, visited by devotees both near and far. In 1954, the image was canonically crowned as the Queen of the Archdiocese of Lipa, with her feast day celebrated twice a year every December 8 and 9.

And don't forget to look up...

The historic town of Taal has so much to offer, with lovingly preserved ancestral homes and a rich culinary heritage (see my previous post on Salo sa Taal and locally-inspired cocktails).

Steps leading to Our Lady of Caysasay's enclosure high above the church gives visitors a rare glimpse of the blessed statue, renewing one's faith. A stop in historic Taal allows visitors a unique opportunity to experience the rich history, culture and cuisine of a town seemingly frozen in time, and chance to renew one's faith in one memorable trip not far from Manila...

Our Lady of Caysasay is located at the historic town of Taal, Batangas.

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