National Shrine of St. Anne



Facade of National Shrine of St. Anne Shrine

For centuries, the Sta. Ana Church in Poblacion, Hagonoy, Bulacan has had the distinction of having cloistered the thousands of Filipino Catholics who made the fishing town their permanent home. With the increase of the population, the town grew and developed into one of the more prosperous towns in the beautiful province of Bulacan. Expectedly, the early Augustinian Friars who built, renovated and repaired the centuries-old church of St. Anne precisely laid down the groundwork of the church complex which followed the grid system. This means that the church was constructed in such a way that all other establishments, homes and businesses were constructed all around it, with a wide plaza for promenade and religious activities.

Today, while the town of Hagonoy expanded and made the narrow streets even narrower, what is most distinct is the still recognizable spacious plaza fronting the imposing Sta. Ana church, now fenced to keep away the deluge of public vehicles.

Interior of National Shrine of St. Anne Shrine

With the passing of the centuries, the Sta. Ana served the parishioners in the best way it could possibly give; there have always been uninterrupted church services and the people learned to prepare a traditional religious calendar year after year, demonstrating their natural bent for religion and love of God. This is most evident with the emergence of a barrio-wide novena devotion to Sta. Ana every Tuesday which culminates in a once-a-month first Tuesday novena held inside the church followed by a procession of the image around the church patio.

Msgr. Jose Aguinaldo who was parish priest of this town until he retired in 1992 saw the sentimental feelings of his parishioners to the image of Sta. Ana prompting him to move for the declaration of the church as a National Shrine to St. Anne. Supported by the local officials of the town and his pastoral council, volunteers and well meaning benefactors worked to ensure that the required documentation for the approval of the petition be completed. Foremost of these paperwork was the testimonies from eyewitness accounts of cures and special blessings attributed to Sta. Ana, or Apo Ana, from the Spanish period to the present.

Altar of National Shrine of St. Anne Shrine

The efforts of Msgr. Aguinaldo and his lay supporters bore fruit with the declaration of the Sta. Ana Church a National Shrine on October 29, 1991 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines through the representation of the Most Rev. Nestor Cariño, D.D., Secretary General.

With the retirement of Msgr. Aguinaldo, his replacement, Msgr. Macario Manahan, not only continued the works of Msgr. Aguinaldo in propagating the devotion to Sta. Ana but also improved on the physical, spiritual and material elements that form the Sta. Ana devotion.

Excerpt from Shrines, Incarnating Christ Today. St. Paul Philippines, 2004. Photos from flickr.com.

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