The Marian apparitions in Lipa, Batanga, that occurred more than 60 years ago has been approved by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles as “supernatural in character” and “worthy of belief.”
In a four-page document dated September 12, Arguelles confirmed that the Blessed Mother indeed appeared before a Carmelite postulant, Teresita “Teresing” Castillo.
The bishop’s decree contradicts a pronouncement made in 1951 by a group of bishops who studied the incidents and listened to witnesses’ testimonies.
They said the “evidence and testimonies exclude any supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings–including the showers of petals–at the Carmel of Lipa.”
The document was issued on April 11, 1951 and signed by Archbishop Gabriel Reyes of Manila, Bishop Cesar Guerrero of San Fernando, Bishop Mariano Madriaga of Lingayen, Administrator of Lipa Bishop Rufino Santos, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila Bishop Vicente Reyes and Bishop Juan Sison, Auxiliary Bishop of Nueva Segovia.
A copy of the document was sent to then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi.
The declaration made by Archbishop Arguelles was issued during the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, which is also recognized as the Feast of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace.
The decree states with “moral certainty” that the Marian apparitions that supposedly took place in Lipa in 1948 did indeed happen and are worthy of “belief based on prudence as humanly possible,” a Marian expert said.
Mariologist Marwil Llasos said Arguelles’ decree “states that indeed the Blessed Mother appeared to a Carmelite postulant named Teresita Castillo several times in 1948, making herself known as the Mediatrix of All Grace.”
Llasos added, “Our conscience can thus rest at ease that it was truly the Blessed Mother who came to visit us in 1948.”
Fr. Melvin Castro, founder of the Confraternity of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, expressed gratitude for the formal recognition of the event, saying in a statement quoted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that Arguelles’ four-page document confirmed what Mediatrix devotees “knew by instinct.”
“Love triumphs in the end. The love of the Lord and Our Lady triumphs. Now our generation is called to perpetuate the memory and relevance of the Lipa apparitions. Let us heed the call of Our Lady for Total Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart. Salve Mediatrix!” Castro said.
After many years, Catholics in Batangas diocese can now officially venerate Mary under the title, Mediatrix of All Grace.
“I encourage the devotion to the Most Holy Mother Mary under her revered and worthy title of Mediatrix of All Grace,” Arguelles reiterated.
In 1948, the Blessed Mother was said to have appeared to a nun named Teresita Castillo at least 19 times at the Carmelite monastery in Lipa City. Her message to the people at the time was to seek the country’s renewal of faith.
The Lipa phenomenon is popularly associated with the shower of rose petals, which took place on September 30, the fifty-first anniversary of the death of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
The decree released by Arguelles is the first approval given by the local church after 67 years.
Fr. Brian Brigoli, a seminary professor, explained that with the declaration of Arguelles, the Catholic faithful can propagate the devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.
“It is only the Vatican that has the faculty to declare [an event as]a miracle. The role of an archdiocese is it will endorse its findings to the Vatican,” he told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
Brigoli said the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in charge of investigating similar incidents.
“It is the Pope that would declare that it’s a miracle,” he added.
WITH BERNADETTE A. PARCO