The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy



Facade of The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy

The task of proclaiming and introducing into life the mystery of God's mercy and imploring that mercy for the world, which the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II places before the entire Church, was entrusted to St. Faustina as her life's witness and mission. Truly enough, the Devotion to the Divine Mercy is quickly growing in the Philippines.

The Shrine of the Divine Mercy is located at Sta. Rosa 1, Marilao, Bulacan, Philippines. It was founded as quasi-parish on November 30, 1991 and was established as parish on November 30, 1994. Later on, it was declared Diocesan Shrine on April 11, 1999. It was then consecrated on November 30, 2000 on the year of the Great Jubilee.

At the shrine, countless people come expressing their fervent devotion to the Divine Mercy. The Devotion to the Hour of Great Mercy is being observed nationwide. St. Faustina in particular, the visionary of the Divine Mercy, is looked up to by the people for her miraculous intercession.

The Shine of the Divine Mercy in Bulacan measures 16,400 sq. meters. Upon arriving at the shrine, there is the majestic feature of the main altar featuring the life-sized painting of the image of the Divine Mercy. the statues of the Seven Archangels are also included in the main altar. Underneath the main church is a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy. The lower part of the shrine is the Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima situated at the back of the shrine. Near the grotto is the building of the future Pilgrim Center and Retreat House. Beside it is the Adoration Chapel where the painting of the Last Vision of Fatima is placed. Also in the vicinity is a place called Rosary Hill where the 15 mysteries are put and also the 14 Stations of the Cross.

Interior of The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy

The place has been a sanctuary to people who are seeking to experience the mercy of God.

In the early 90s, when Fr. Vic Robles, then assistant parish priest, was about to finish his year-long assignment at the St. Michael Parish in Marilao, Bulacan, he was convinced by the parish priest, Fr. Mariano Sanchez, to stay for another year. He was told that there were plans of putting up a new parish in the same town in Bulacan, and that he was being eyed to sit as its parish priest. He stayed, and when plans of selecting a patron for the new parish was under way, he got the inspiration to adopt the Divine Mercy to be the patron.

I was first introduced to the devotion to the Divine Mercy when I was asked to celebrate Mass at a chapel in Navotas, Fr. Vic relates. He adds, I was aware of the three o'clock prayer devotion, but that was the first time I ever saw a chapel of the Divine mercy, and I remember joking that if ever I was to become a parish priest, I would build a church for the Divine Mercy.

Altar of The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy

While the plans for the new parish were going on, Fr. Vic was told of a lot where the future church would stand. He asked for the name of the lot owner during the 6:00 pm mass of April 6, 1991. Incidentally, the following day, April 7, was the feast day of the Divine Mercy. Eventually, they were able to acquire the property and finally, on the feast day of the Divine Mercy the following year, Fr. Vic led the groundbreaking ceremonies, with Bishop Cirilo Almario officiating the Mass.

Fr. Vic enthuses: We were inspired to spread the devotion to the Divine Mercy first before we were to put up the church's structure, and from an initial crowd of 500 in 1992, we now have around 30,000 devotees coming over to the shrine! And from a bare land with a simple reproduction of the picture of the Divine Mercy, ten year later today, the parish has been declared a diocesan shrine.

We have been praying and lobbying that the Divine Mercy be made a national shrine, Fr. Vic confesses. A lot of people have attributed miracles because of the devotion to the Divine Mercy, he adds, but the greatest blessing of the shrine is the conversion experience being encountered by the people who come here. Whatever healing a person has received through the shrine has definitely led him to a deeper relationship with God.

Excerpt from Shrines, Incarnating Christ Today. St. Paul Philippines, 2004. Photos from skyscrapercity.com and thesplendorofthechurch.blogspot.com.

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