In the celebration of 400 years of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on May 4, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said, “In a world that is loud and refuses to hear the cry of the people, especially the poor, let us go back to Carmel.
In a world that worships false gods, let us go back to Carmel. We hope that the guns and the cries would turn silent and be replaced by a silence brought about by genuine peace.”
“In a world that is being destroyed by false gods, may the Lord mold us to become givers of life.”
During the High Mass at the Quirino Grandstand, Tagle also underscored the need to live a life emulating the values of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, who has been the refuge of thousands of devotees since the image came to the Philippines.
Organized by San Sebastian Basilica, home of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the one-day festivity kicked off with the re-enactment of the arrival of the first image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel from Mexico in 1618 that was held at the Manila Bay dock.
Tagle said that the salubong and traslacion tradition aims to strengthen the people’s devotions to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and to draw strengthen from her. He also called on the devotees to pray for the country’s healing and reconciliation.
The procession ended at the San Sebastian Basilica at around 11 a.m. Aside from the main event, there were also catechism and pilgrimage tours within the Basilica as organized by the church.
Since January, pre-salubong activities have been conducted such as novena masses, procession of Saints, and Marian exhibits at the San Sebastian Basilica.
The organizers projected over a million devotees in attendance, however the event only gathered over 5,000 devotees.
The highlight of the traslacion was the dungaw or salubong at the Quiapo Church, where the image of the Black Nazarene was brought to meet the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Traditionally the salubong is a part of the annual traslacion of the Black Nazarene held outside the San Sebastian Church. Many devotees come before dawn to get a glimpse of the historic meet while offering prayers of devotion.
According Bing Kimpo, trustee of the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, while dungaw is an age-old tradition during traslacion, this celebration was a different.
It used to be that both images meet for the traditional dungaw during the Feast of the Black Nazarene, Kimpo says, but this will be the first time that the Black Nazarene looked out to the image during the Our Lady’s traslacion.
It was five years ago when a more meaningful approach was adapted, after the discovery that the Black Nazarene and the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel were both brought by the Augustinian Recollects in the country.
In 1617, the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) set on their third mission to the Philippines from Spain, led by Fr. Rodrigo Moriz Aganduru, OAR. They passed by Acapulco, Mexico where the image of Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) was given by the Discalced Carmelite nuns as a gift. The image served as their protectress as it sailed for over two months to the country.
In 1621, San Sebastian Church welcomed Nuestra Senora del Carmen where it was enthroned. In the same year, the Augustinian Recollect community was inaugurated in San Sebastian de Calumpang, Quiapo.
The church was pulverized by two consecutive earthquakes—one in 1863 and another in 1880. The Carmelite Prior General in Rom granted the Augustinian Recollects the permission to promote the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in San Sebastian Church. From 1887-1891, a four year project was launched to build an all-steel church of San Sebastian.
While the project was ongoing, the church was raised to a status of Minor Basilica, attached to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. By virtue of the Presidential Decree No. 260, San Sebastian Basilica was declared a National Historical Landmark in the Philippines in August 1, 1973.
Come 1991, Our Lady was canonically crowned by St. Pope John Paul II.