The Diocese of Boac celebrated the 50th canonical coronation anniversary of the sacred image of Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang-Awa and the 30th anniversary of canonical erection of Boac as a diocese on May 10, 2008. The townsfolk were treated to an early delight as the thoroughfares of Boac town was enlivened by the festive sounds of traditional Diana. The whole town of Boac, alluding to the marian colors, was festively decorated in white and blue motif, flaglets and banners were everywhere unfurling to the roaring tune of the cathedral bells as it reverberate throughout the town. Flocks of faithful from all walks of life, tourists and locals alike briskly traversed the uphill climb toward “Mataas na Bayan” the hilly place where the Boac cathedral is situated- the place of the seat of the Diocese of Boac and on which the shrine dedicated to the miraculous image of Ang Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang Awa is to be seen. The age old cathedral with its massive fortress like ancient walls was in a jubilant atmosphere as the extolling of the cathedral bells invited the whole Christian faithful of the diocese to the culminating activities of the yearlong preparation and celebration of the two major diocesan celebrations, the 50th year of the canonical coronation of the Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang-Awa as it coincides with the 30th Canonical erection of the Diocese of Boac. By midmorning, the entire cathedral compound was overflowing with devotees eagerly waiting for the events that are about to happen. As scheduled, the group of twelve guest bishops and eleven priests together with the Boac clergy headed by Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista and his Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, processed from the bishops residence toward the cathedral door amidst the throng of the faithful.
From the very start, the entire event was planned to be a celebration of thanksgiving done in the spirit of the Marinduqueno tradition and loving devotion to the Virgin Mary. From the renovation of the permanent shrine for the canonically crowned image which employed local skilled workers, architects and designers, to the restoration of the image of the Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang Awa done by a local artisan bringing back the former elegant yet simple look of the image way back to how it was 50 years ago during her canonical coronation, to the morions who acted as cordon de honor to the Biglang-Awa image, to the specially chosen liturgical hymns composed by the late Msgr. Simeon Reginio a native priest musician of Marinduque, the singing and the dancing of putong as it accompanies the very re enactment of the canonical coronation. And lastly in having his Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal the dearest son of Marinduque as the main celebrant for the solemn mass.
The jubilation started to built up as the entrance song was sang. The faithful flocked inside the cathedral just to witness the celebration. In his homily, the Cardinal gave emphasis on the role of Mary as intercessor to her Son. “Ang Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang Awa ay unang nagpahayag ng kanyang pagkalinga sa ating pangangailangan sa kasalan sa Kana, kung saan ang ikinasal ay naubusan ng alak. . .Kaagad siyang lumapit sa kanyang Anak upang ipaalam ang kalagayang yaon. . .Siya ay laging nagmamasid, hindi upang manglait sa kapwa kundi’y upang malaman kung ano ang kailangan. . .” His Eminence also recounted his role during the solemn canonical coronation that took place 50 years ago. With much enthusiasm he narrated how he as a young priest then took part on that solemn occasion. Fifty years ago he was the one who read the decree of the canonical coronation and on the solemn anniversary he is the one who crowned the sacred image of Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang Awa during the Reenactment of the Canonical Coronation.
After his homily, His Eminence together with the bishop of Boac, Most Rev. Reynaldo G. Evangelista, D.D., reenacted the coronation of the image that had happened on May 10, 1958. During the reenactment, the faithful witnessed the crowning of the image using the very same crown that was used on the day of her canonical coronation. .The cathedral was filled with awe and jubilation when the faithful, headed by some “magpuputong” sang the “Putong”, a traditional serenade of prayer and celebration as an acculturated expression of hailing the Blessed Virgin Mary. All were full of joy when the fireworks burst and they sang the hymn of Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang Awa.
After the mass, the crowned image was brought through the solemn rite of procession to the site where historical accounts would narrate as the place where the Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang-Awa miraculously appeared. Tears of joy appeared on the eyes of the devotees as they watched the procession of the image from the altar to the shrine which was recently renovated and dedicated as the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Biglang-Awa. Devotees mobbed on the shrine wanting to pay homage to the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Most Rev. Reynaldo G. Evangelista expressed his gratitude to those who in one way or another extended their hands to make this celebration a successful one. The bishops who attended the celebration were Bishop Leo Drona of San Pablo, Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo, Bishop Edgardo Juanich of Taytay, Palawan, Bishop Renato Mayugba, Auxiliary bishop of Lingayen, Bishop Francisco San Diego of Pasig, Bishop Emilio Marquez of Lucena, Bishop Pedro Arigo of Puerto Princesa, Bishop Emeritus of Lipa, Bishop Salvador Quizon, Bishop Jose Francisco Oliveros of Malolos, Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, and Bishop Emeritus of Lucena, Bishop Ruben Profugo. There were also guests priests from the nearby dioceses who took part on the said celebration.
After the celebration luncheon was served for the visitors and pilgrims at the Pastoral Center of the diocese while the ambiance was filled with delight through the music of the band. This May 10 celebration was another milestone for the devotion to Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang-Awa and a new beginning for the Diocese of Boac.