September 8, is a special day among Catholic faithfuls, particularly for Marian devotees since it is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Even more so for the parishioners and Legionaries on Saipan and who gathered in San Roque Church last Saturday as it marked the unveiling and launching of the devotion to Nuestra Senora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health) by the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) fathers. Nuestra Señora de la Salud is the patroness of the sick and many miraculous cures have been attributed in her intercession.
A replica was brought from Manila where the original image is kept under the care of the OAR. Fr. Leo Neil Bullos, presented a chronology of the image – how it first reached the Philippine islands more than three hundred years ago to where the image is currently located where Catholics can pray and ask for her intercession. In summary,
“The image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health or the Black Virgin of Health) is the fourth icon that was brought by some religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in 1634 from New Spain to the Philippines. The Discalced Carmelite of the convent in Mexico very devoutly offered it to them so it could be revered in their journey as protectress and refuge, and be put in some fitting place.
In Manila, the small icon was carried in procession and with the permission of ecclesiastical authorities, was installed in San Juan de Bagumbayan Church. Here, in the course of time, the residents of the capital developed an affectionate devotion to her and the Virgen de la Salud was then transferred in San Nicolás Church.
The feast of Nuestra Señora de la Salud in Intramuros used to coincide with the fiesta of the Lourdes Church of the Capuchins, also in the “Walled City.” Her feast was later transferred to 19th of March and jointly celebrated with the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. After the destruction of San Nicolás church in 1945, the icon was taken to the convent of San Sebastián where the Vicar Provincial held office. In 1970, it was moved again to the newly inaugurated vicariate in Quezon City.
Years passed and 2017 marked the major comeback of Nuestra Senora de la Salud, through a series of activities and programs. Her official fiesta is celebrated on November 17. At present, her chapel in San Nicolas Parish in Quezon City, is under construction and numerous miraculous cures, including four safe pregnancies were reported through her intercession. The replica of the Nuestra Senora de la Salud is now in San Roque Church.”
Encased in a glass box and clad in gold, the image of the Black Virgin of Health was unveiled while its theme song was sung by Fr. Felipe Rollon, Jr. The solemn occasion was concluded by a flower offering from the parishioners followed by the Eucharistic celebration. Prayer cards were also distributed among the people who attended the event as they recited the prayer to Our Lady of Health. A simple fellowship followed at the Social Hall courtesy of the San Roque Parish and the Legion of Mary which celebrated its praesidium function and outdoor function previously in Susupe. The parish raffle draw was also held were gift certificates, household items and appliances as well as cash prizes were given away, the grand prize was $2000.
The OAR fathers, together with the San Roque Parish are very grateful to all who helped and supported their activities. They are blessed to welcome the image of Our Lady of Health in their community and invite everyone, particularly those who are sick or suffering from illness, and anyone who may need comfort, or seeking solace to visit and pray, asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Health. Nuestra Señora de le Salud, pray for us. Biba Santa Maria!