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A TINY nipa hut serving as a chapel in Barrio San Miguel, Manila in 1851 held the image of Nuestra Señora del Rosario — Our Lady of the Rosary — which is venerated by the villagers.
Miraculously, though a huge fire raged all around the little hermitage on April 16, 1854, consuming all the structures in its path, the hut and the grass surrounding it stood totally unscathed. Witnesses gave written testimony to the fact that as the fire surrounded the capillita (small chapel), it suddenly died; even its grass did not lose its freshness. People plucked the grass, believing it to be miraculous.
Priest-investigators assiduously interviewing witnesses attested in writing to the miracle, with which the Archbishop of Manila concurred.
Forthwith, Governor General Manuel Pavia y Lacy ordered a stone chapel to be built, replacing the hut.
Fearing that the stone chapel situated in the Barretto lumberyard could crumble, in the late 1940s, Doña Florencia Barretto caused the present structure to be built in concrete.
Though Our Lady of the Rosary’s gowns may change over time, she is the original image venerated from 1851 up to the present.
Doña Florencia’s granddaughter, Carmencita Legarda Cu-Unjieng, is the capillita’s present custodian.
Commemorating Our Lady of the Rosary’s feast day, Novena prayers start on April 16. It being a Black Saturday, however, the Novena will have to be prayed in private. But Novena Masses will be held the next day, April 17, Easter Sunday, at 9 a.m. On succeeding days from April 18 to 23, the Novena Masses start at 5:30 p.m. until the following Sunday, April 24, at 10 a.m.
The capillita is open to those who wish to join the Novena Masses.
To reach the white chapel, traveling north on Ayala Bridge, turn left at its foot on Carlos Palanca St. (formerly Echague). The white capillita is 200 meters away on the right-hand side at 505 Carlos Palanca St. in Manila. — Joan Orendain