THE SHRINE OF THE MIRACULOUS IMAGE OF OUR LADY OF NAMACPACAN
SAINT CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA PARISH
LUNA, LA UNION
The year 1690 saw the birth of a new town as idyllic in its formation as its name implies. Situated along the fringes of Northern La Union coasting the China Sea, it was named NAMACPACAN to glorify the native trait of hospitality which residents showed towards the people of neighboring towns who retreated to its thick forests when they were persecuted by the colonizers.
It was in the year 1871, when an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was brought along its shores by a lucky stroke of fate, which eventually became venerated as the Image of Our Lady of Namacpacan. The image was ordered from Spain by a certain Augustinian Priest then assigned to the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Brought to the Philippines in a ship, it was heading for the province of Ilocos Sur when a storm forced the crew to seek shelter at Darigayos, a barrio of the town then named Namacpacan. When the storm abated, they tried to resume their journey, but strong winds forced them back to the port; several attempts were made to sail, but each time they did, their progress was impeded by the winds. Finally, the captain of the ship decided to carry the statue to the port and have it carried overland to its destination. Again, the natives met difficulties when the box containing the image could not be budged an inch, so that after several unsuccessful attempts, they concluded that Our Blessed Lady must have chosen the town of Namacpacan as her sanctuary. Rev. Fr. Marcelino Ceballos, the Parish Priest of Namacpacan then, negotiated with the Augustinian Friars who came to claim the statue, and the sacred Image was carried in procession to the Church of Namacpacan. A big feast marked the arrival of Our Lady in town. The townspeople came out in their best to meet the parish church and which came to be known as Our Lady of Namacpacan. An altar at the northern portion side of the church was constructed to house the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Namacpacan. By virtue of Philippine Commission Act No. 1543, the town’s name was changed to Luna in 1906 to honor the Luna brothers, Antonio, the General and Juan, the Painter, whose mother, Doña Laureana Novicio Luna hails from the place; however, the townspeople became so attached to Our Lady that the name, Our Lady of Namacpacan, remained despite the change of the name of the town.
Many are the amazing incidents attributed by the townspeople to Our Lady of Namacpacan. One of them is the instant cure of a certain Rosa Roldan, who was born lame; she claimed that Our Lady came to her home and restored to her the power to walk again. It was also during this period that some pagans and Igorots came down from the highlands to fulfill a mission requested by a beautiful “Señora” who appeared to them to go to Luna to be baptized and to kiss the sacred image of Our Lady. In the year 1950, the townspeople were surprised by the radiance of a light emanating from the statue of Our Lady, filling the whole church with its brilliance. Devotion to Our lady grew with the years that it was not uncommon to see the town plaza full of carts bearing devotees from neighboring towns and provinces.
By a special Decree of the reigning Pontiff, Pope John XXIII, Our Lady of Namacpacan was canonically crowned on November 24, 1959. (Based on a historical sketch by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Quintin Velasquez)
Researched and prepared by:
Arthur S. Cortez Jr.
Provincial Information and Tourism Office
Province of La Union