The Tradition of the Virgin of Caysasay

Enshrined in the church of barrio Labac (also known as Caysaysay) is the Nuestra Senora de Caysasay. It was 1603 when the image of the Virgin was caught in a net while the town chief, Juan Maningkad was fishing near the mouth of the river channel. Some believe the discovery of the image to be a miracle while others claim that the image was from a passing Spanish or Portuguese ship.  

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The image was brought to father Juan Bautista Montoya and was entrusted to the care Maria Espiritu, who placed the Virgin in a special urn. The image was later moved to the town’s church and was place in a niche above the main altar. Father Marcos Anton dressed the image in pure gold.  

The image was reported to frequently disappear from the church and reappear a few days later. One day it miraculously disappeared from the church and after several days was rediscovered on a sampaga tree by Maria Baguhin and Maria Talain. The image was surrounded by lighted candles and was guarded by a casaycasay (kingfisher) when the women found it.  

In 1611, a chapel of light material was built near the well where it kept appearing after disappeared from the church. In 1639, a stone church was built under the direction of Father Alonso Rodriguez. The roof was damaged by the 1754 eruption of Taal Volcano and the walls and the towers fell during the 1852 earthquake. 

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The church was reconstructed in 1856 but was damage again by an earthquake. It was later repaired and the interior was improved by Father Marcos Anton. Cesar Aberoni painted the interior of the church.  

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The tradition of transferring the image from its special niche in the Basilica of San Martin de Tours to the chapel of Caysasay every Thursday and returned on a Saturday afternoon still continues since 1857. In 1952, this tradition was halted when Bishop Rufino Santos (later became cardinal) ordered the image to have a permanent enshrinement at the sanctuary. Thanks to the town’s people solid devotion that the century-old tradition was revived.

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At the rear of the church of Caysasay is a piedra china stairway called Hagdan-hagdan built by Father Celestino Mayordomo. A short walk from the shrine is the Santa Lucia twin wells.

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According to locals, this is where Maria Baguhin and Maria Talain, while gathering firewood and drawing water from the well found the image of the Virgin. This old shrine has a coral stone arch with a bas-relief of the Virgin of Caysasay. It was destroyed when the Taal Volcano erupted.

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The twin well are found underneath the arch, the waters of which are said to have healing and therapeutic powers. Devotees usually pray at the grotto and light candles before drawing water from the well. The place is jam packed during Holy Week.

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Click here to begin tour.

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