The Diocese of Antipolo said it will petition the Vatican to declare the country’s first national shrine as an “international shrine”, reported CBCP News.
The plan was announced on July 27, 2021, after it received endorsement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage be elevated to such status.
“By being a center of the Catholic faith in the region, this would be an honor that will be claimed as a beacon for Filipinos across the world and those inspired by the cause of peace and good voyage attest their fervor in the faith to the love of Christ and to the maternal care of the Blessed Mother,” the diocese said in a statement.
“Let us pray that this petition will be approved by the Holy See,” it added.
The diocese is still finalizing the requirements before a formal petition is submitted to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
In its recommendation letter, the CBCP described the cathedral as the country’s “prime pilgrim Church because of the countless devotees and pilgrims who have come and experienced the special presence of the Blessed Mother in their life through the pastoral care of pilgrims in this shrine”.
If the petition is approved, the Antipolo Church will be the world’s 11th international shrine and the third in Asia after the St. Thomas Church Malayattoor in Kerala India, and the Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground together with the Seoul Pilgrimage Routes in South Korea.
It will also be the sixth Marian international shrine and the first in Asia.
The Antipolo Church is home to the 17th-century image of the brown-skinned Madonna known to devotees around the world as “Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje”.
The image, which arrived in the country on July 18, 1626, was granted a pontifical coronation on Nov. 28, 1926.
On January 14, 1954, the church was granted the status of a national shrine by the Philippine bishops, the first not just in the country but also in Southeast Asia.
It was further given the honor of becoming the cathedral of the Antipolo diocese on June 25, 1983, with the installation of its first bishop, Protacio Gungon.
The church was also included in the 2001 Directory of Popular Piety and Liturgy and was among the 30 shrines around the world that were part of a global marathon of prayer initiated by Pope Francis last May for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.