The Antipolo Cathedral, a historic place of worship in the Philippines, has made a new mark by becoming the first International Catholic Shrine in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and one of only eleven in the world.
This historic moment was officially announced during a solemn Mass presided by Archbishop Charles John Brown, Apostolic Nuncio (January 26). The ceremony also marked the culmination of a series of steps to elevate the status of Antipolo Cathedral, which began with the issuance of a Vatican decree in 2023.
The ceremony was attended by more than 85 bishops and archbishops from different parts of the country, as well as hundreds of priests from the Antipolo Diocese. The symbolic coronation of the Blessed Mother took place in the morning as a sign of welcoming "a new journey as an international place of worship". The procession and coronation of the image were led by His Excellency Rev. Charles John Brown D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, and Bishop Ruperto Santos of Antipolo.
The decree was then read in Latin by Rev. Francisco M. De Leon D.D., and Bishop Emeritus of Antipolo, while the English translation was read by Msgr. Patin.
To commemorate this historic event, the diocese announced the theme "Ave Regina Pacis" which means "Hail, Queen of Peace" in Latin, emphasizing the importance of the celebration to Our Lady of Antipolo.
Earlier, in 2021, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) supported the diocese's efforts to elevate the status of the Antipolo Cathedral to an international place of worship. The Holy See then approved the petition in June 2022, and the papal decree was issued in March 2023.
In its written recommendation, the CBCP explained that the Cathedral is considered as the main pilgrimage center of the country because of the countless admirers and pilgrims who have come and felt the special presence of Our Lady of Antipolo in their lives through the pastoral care of pilgrims in this place of worship.
The Antipolo Cathedral, also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje), is where the image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage is venerated by thousands of pilgrims, especially during the celebration and pilgrimage season in May.
The cathedral's pilgrimage season includes various activities such as motorcades to the Quiapo Church, the arrival of the image on May 1, and processions to Pinagmisahan Hill on the first Tuesday of May, where a Mass has been celebrated since 1947. The pilgrimage season begins on the first Tuesday of May and lasts until the first Tuesday of July.
The church was first built in 1632 to serve as a place of worship for Our Lady of Antipolo. The image of Our Lady was first brought to the church by Governor General Juan Niño de Tabora from Acapulco, Mexico.
The church was threatened with destruction during the Chinese Rebellion in 1639 and suffered damage from several earthquakes. Despite these challenges, the church gained fame as a prominent pilgrimage destination during the Spanish colonial period. Even famous personalities such as Jose Rizal and his father, Francisco Mercado, were pilgrims, as described on the Antipolo Cathedral website.
The church was also destroyed by Allied forces during World War II in 1945. However, the building was later rebuilt, with the construction of a new place of worship designed by José L. de Ocampo completed in 1954. On January 14, 1954, the church was consecrated as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. In 1983, the church was elevated to the status of a cathedral coinciding with the creation of the Diocese of Antipolo.
In the Catholic Church, there are three categories of shrines: diocesan shrines, approved by the local bishop; national shrines, approved by the bishops' conference; and international shrines, approved by the Vatican.