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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

By the grace of Floy

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“By order of the Most Holy Father’s will: The apostolic delegate is to authorize the apostolic administrator to issue a document from the Curia in which it is declared that the events of Lipa, after serious examination, turns out not to have a supernatural origin and character.”

And so the controversial 1951 Vatican decree, written in Latin and drafted in the presence of then Pope Pius XII and was released just recently, stated. It confirmed that the apparitions of the Virgin Mary that happened in Lipa, Batangas in 1948 were not supernatural.

Curiosity got me when the late Floy Quintos produced Grace, the last play he wrote before his untimely death. The play trained the spotlight on the controversial Lipa apparitions. And it was what a telenovela should be made of.

On Sept.12, 1948, a young nun named Teresita experienced an apparition of the Virgin Mary while praying in the garden of the Carmelite Convent in Lipa City. During her prayer, the vines in the garden began to shake, and Teresita heard a voice, believed to be that of the Virgin Mary, instructing her to kiss the ground and to return to the same spot for the following 15 days.

Sister Teresing, as she was called, returned the following day, and saw the Virgin Mary, dressed in a simple white robe and carrying a golden rosary hanging from her right hand.

During the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15, 1948, rose petals with effigies of Jesus and Mary, fell down from heaven.

Based on the historical account, there were 19 apparitions of the visionary nun. During these apparitions, Mary allegedly told the young nun secrets about herself, for the Carmelite convent, China, and the entire world. In some apparitions, the Virgin Mary stressed humility, penance, prayers for the clergy and the Pope, and praying of the rosary.

In her final apparition to Sister Teresing, on Nov. 12, 1948, the Virgin Mary called herself the “Mediatrix of All Grace.” Reportedly, some many conversions and healings occurred following the apparitions.

While the devotion to Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace grew, controversies hounded the so-called apparitions. Local bishop Alfredo Verzosa y Florentin had approved the veneration, but the committee of Church hierarchy in the Philippines declared that there was no supernatural intervention.

According to the reports, “Bishop Rufino Santos, who became apostolic administrator after the decision, ordered that no petals be given to anyone, and the statue of Our Lady, Mediatrix be withdrawn from public view.”

In 1950, Sister Teresing left the convent because of the controversy.

For years, the story of Lipa apparitions slowly faded, until February 1990 when the nephew of Bishop Cesar M. Guerrero, one of the signers of the 1951 negative judgment, allegedly swore in an affidavit that the bishop signed the document under duress. According to the book by June Keithley, Bishop Guerrero believed in the authenticity of the apparitions.

Later that year, a dying sister from the Lipa Carmelite convent requested the return of the statue for veneration, which the community fulfilled promptly. Archbishop Mariano Gaviola then lifted Bishop Santos’s ban, allowing the statue’s display.

In 2005, Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles of Lipa, Batangas, initiated a campaign to spread devotion to Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace, across the country’s parishes. He publicly expressed his devotion to the apparition on numerous occasions.

During the 61st anniversary of Sister Teresing’s final apparition, Archbishop Arguelles officially lifted the 1951 ban and established a new commission to reassess the apparition and its phenomena. However, the Vatican intervened, maintaining its position. Nevertheless, devotion to Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace has persisted and grown over the years.

Grace, directed by Dexter Santos, features stellar performances by seasoned actors including Stella Cañete-Mendoza, Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Frances Makil-Ignacio, Missy Maramara, Matel Patayon, Leo Rialp, Dennis Marasigan, Nelsito Gomez, Jojo Cayabyab, and Raphne Catorce.

The play intertwines historical and fictional characters to explore the 1948 Marian apparitions and rose petal showers in Lipa. The Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Lipa Carmel provide insights into their monastery’s establishment and the sacred virtues of their Order.

Actor Marasigan reflects on the apparitions, emphasizing faith over proof: “It is still the same Virgin Mary, regardless of any pronouncement. My family in Lipa also believed in it.” 

Marasigan, who met Sister Teresing in the 1970s, portrays Bishop Santos in the play, approaching the role with historical accuracy.

Despite being his first Quintosian play, Marasigan eagerly accepted the opportunity, expressing no hesitation.

During the script reading, Quintos discussed his motivation for writing the play, intrigued by the Catholic Church’s politics, silence, and obedience. He saw obedience and silence as forms of resistance, reflected in the play’s tagline “obey and resist in silence.” Even for those without devotion or belief, the play stays true to the facts.

“You will find that the play ends in the way it actually ended in real life. The church made the pronouncement that it was not a miracle. My expectation? The audience will come out of the theater wanting to know more about what has happened,” shared Marasigan.

He added: “The play doesn’t advocate the changing of the stand. But if it makes people understand what happened and deepen their faith, then the play has done its purpose.”

Grace runs every Saturday and Sunday from May 25 to June 16, with 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. shows, at the PMCS Blackbox Theater, Circuit Makati. Tickets are available at Ticket2Me (https://ticket2me.net/event/21756).

For more information, follow Grace on its social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. You may also contact us at 09952086334 and grace.spotlight.2024@gmail.com.

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