By Chooli Julia Nuyana
The majestic National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage also known as the Antipolo Cathedral stands at the heart of the Antipolo as the symbol of the city’s devotion to the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary and its centuries-old rich culture of Roman Catholic history and heritage.
As one takes a walk around the Antipolo Cathedral with stalls selling mouth-watering local delicacies such as the suman, manga, kasoy and kakanin, it is impossible to miss the wide passageway leading inside. Just recently, cathedral rector Fr. Reynante U. Tolentino JCB, commonly called Father Nante, initiated the improvements making it more conducive and pleasing to its visitors and devotees.
What once has been a crowded and cluttered road to the edifice has now been significantly widened to serve as driveway for vehicles and a path for pedestrians. The entrance to the church was made broader to cater to the increasing crowd of devotees.
As they step into the vicinity of the church long-time devotees can’t help but notice that the interior has also been refurbished and made even more grand.
A mother and her family, who have made it a tradition to travel all the way from Pasay City annually every first week of January to pray in the Antipolo Cathedral, said they were impressed with numerous improvements especially the widened entrance which allows visitors easy access to the cathedral.
A senior high school student from Barangay Dalig John Rhey Espinosa likewise expressed his appreciation for the improvements.
“Minsan kasi pag taga dito ka lang, ‘di mo masyado napapansin kasi lagi mo naman nakikita. Pero pag dumadaan ka dito sa may simbahan, mapapansin mo na lang na ba’t parang lumawak? Naging mas maayos, maaliwalas, ganoon. Di mo pa masabi kung ano yun pero napapansin mo yung improvement sa lugar,” said Espinosa.
Built in the year 1632 by Reverend Juan de Salazar, S.J., a Jesuit priest, the church has survived multiple damage brought about by war, fire and natural calamities. It has even survived bombing by Allied forces during the Second World War in 1945.
Every year the shrine welcomes millions of pilgrims from Metro Manila and other far-flung provinces, especially during the Lenten Season late March or early April and through the month of May. The church which had its status elevated as a cathedral on June 25, 1983, is renowned in the country as the holy abode of the Marian image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and is also the seat of the Bishop of Antipolo.
The Antipolo Cathedral is the city’s landmark of faith and devotion to the Blessed Mary. One can only wonder in awe and admiration at the newly refurbished church that has withstood the test of time and history and whose walls and pillars whisper stories of its glorious past.