Nowadays, 16 July is almost always associated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a feast that was earmarked for removal by the Commission for the General Reform of the Liturgy because its members felt the faithful focused on the privilege attached to the devotion and neglected other Marian feasts. After an onslaught of blasphemous diatribes—conveniently explained away either as a legitimate exercise of the freedom of speech, or an explosion of unresolved anger against an institution that coddled child abusers—from the highest civil power of the land, the bishops of the Philippines invited the faithful to pray and fast for those who blaspheme the Holy and Terrible Name of God. This reparatory triduum starts today.
While we pray and fast today in reparation for the outrages and calumnies spoken against the Name of God, let us also remember those milestones that, in the supreme and infinite goodness of God, lodged on this auspicious date in our calendar.
16 July A. D. 1935
Rome at Saint Peter’s
Having received the request of the metropolitan archbishop of Manila, on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the entire archipelago, as well as the relation of the apostolic delegate, Pope Pius XI promulgates the bull Romani Pontiﬁces to the Philippine Islands, declaring the Virgin of Guadalupe as the Heavenly Patroness of the Philippine Islands (in Latin, Cœlestis Patrona Insularum Philippinarum). Many would, afterwards, pit this title of the Deipara against her Immaculate Conception when, almost seven years later, on 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII, with the bull Impositi Nobis, would declare the latter as the Principal and Universal Patroness of the Philippine Islands (in Latin, Primaria Universalisque Patrona Insularum Philippinarum).
Note: By the end of Spanish rule, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe was kept as a double major, while the feast of the Immaculate Conception, being patroness of the Spanish Indies and titular of the metropolitan cathedral of Manila, was celebrated as a double of the ﬁrst class with octave.
16 July A. D. 1902
Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús
A cholera epidemic breaks out in the city of Cebú. The ordinary of the see, the Franciscan Fray Martín García y Alcocer, causes the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Holy Cross to be carried in procession through the main streets of the city to invoke the heavenly aid of the Blessed Mother of God against the epidemic. Since then, the city celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 16 July, in commemoration of its deliverance from the epidemic.
Note: There are two Virgins of Guadalupe venerated in the archipelago: the ﬁrst is the image from Mexico in what was formerly known as New Spain; the second is the image from Cáceres in the province of Extremadura in Spain. These two are unrelated devotions, the latter antedating the Mexican image for almoﬆ four centuries. Of these two, the Mexican image is more widespread and more known. The Extremaduran image, however, is venerated in many parts of Bohol—Loboc, in particular. They are celebrated with their own proper Masses. The Virgin of Guadalupe in Cebu follows the Mexican archetype.
16 July A. D. 1251
Aylesford or Cambridge
The Blessed Virgin Mary appears in a vision to Saint Simon Stock, Prior General of the Order of the Carmelites, holding a brown scapular, and saying, “This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved.” The brown scapular eventually spreads amongst the people who wish to be aﬃliated with the Carmelites. Though the historicity of this vision and that of the sabbatine privilege has been seriously questioned in the last century, the devotion to the Blessed Virgin still remains strong with the brown scapular.
16 July A. D. 1212
Las Navas de Tolosa
Alphonsus VIII of Castile, Sanctius VII of Navarre, and Peter II of Aragon obtain victory over the Muslims of Iberia. The Cross appears in the sky as the outnumbered Christians press against the Muslims, while the primatial Cross of Toledo penetrates the battle lines, amid the banners bearing the image of the Blessed Virgin, eventually putting to ﬂight the Almohad caliph Muhammad an-Nasir. The Crusade has been organised by Alphonsus VIII; Roderic, metropolitan of Toledo; and Pope Innocent XIII, who mandated a special rogation in Rome a year before.
In former times, the Triumph of the Holy Cross was originally kept on 16 July in the calendar of the Philippines, with Our Lady of Mount Carmel transferred to 21 July. Eventually, the feast days were switched, until finally Our Lady of Mount Carmel was fixed on 16 July and the Triumph of the Holy Cross was moved a day later. However, in some places in the Philippines, such as Carigara in Leyte, the Triumph of the Holy Cross is still kept today.
Saint Bernardine of Siena observes: “No other sin compasses in itself so much wickedness as blasphemy does”. Saint Jerome agrees: “All other sins, therefore, are light compared to blasphemy.” Saint John Chrysostom then commands: “Strike the blasphemer, crush his mouth!” Blasphemy is a grave sin. There is no doubt about it. We must make reparation for these indecencies so carelessly and whimsically thrown to the air, lest the wrath of God descend upon our nation.
Converte nos, Deus, salutaris noster, et averte iram tuam a nobis.