This Cathedral is famous every February. It is the celebration of our Lady of Candles. Who she is, we’ll find out.
Popularly known as “Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria”, it was the title given to Our Blessed Virgin Mary in commemoration of the Presentation of Jesus and Mary’s own rite of Purification according to Jewish Law. Where it stands now is in front of the Cathedral Church of Jaro, a big statue (human size) that glows every night. It’s one of the spots of tourists whenever they pay homage to the Church.
Here comes the LEGEND! It was said that the image was caught in the Iloilo River in 1587. The image was heavy and required several men to lift. When it was decided by the founders that the image will be bought to Jaro, the image became lighter. It was installed in the old Augustinian church located in a section of La Paz town. When Jaro became a diocese in 1867, a cathedral was constructed in the town proper named after St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
One evening in 1874, a Chinese businessman who owned a variety store near the church had a beautiful customer and her child. She purchased a lamplight oil for her baby. The owner got curious and followed the woman and found her at the artesan well in the middle of the town plaza bathing her child. As he walked away the woman disappeared. When he passed by a church portals, he saw the niche was lit. There, stood the beautiful Lady and a lighted candle in her hand. After this event, the Chinese owner was converted to Catholicism. It was also experienced by many parishioners. The lady would vanish from the altar from time to time and be seen at the well bathing her child. The well has been encased in steel within the plaza compound. According to Lay Minister Roming Guevarra the water from the well has curative powers.
So the next time you pay homage or tribute to a Catholic Mission, remember that when you pass by Jaro Cathedral, think about the legend, and look closer. You’ll see that the eyes of Our Lady of Candles follows you… or perhaps, that’s what I think.