Lord, I never wanted to be separated from You.

The Quadricentennial Visit of La Naval to UST

La Naval enthroned at the UST Parish Church
December 6, 2011 

A prayerful atmosphere enveloped the campus of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila upon the arrival of the image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – La Naval de Manila. This particular visit of the original image is very meaningful because UST is celebrating its 400 years of unending grace. This further underscores the love story between UST and La Naval. 

The Carillon Bells of the UST Martyrs' Monument
After the destruction of the fifth Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros during the Second World War, the University Chapel became the sanctuary of La Naval for 13 years until a new shrine in Quezon City was built in 1954. Behind the conception of the sixth Santo Domingo Church was architect Jose Maria Zaragoza, an alumnus of UST College of Architecture. Galo Ocampo, a faculty member of UST, designed the stained glass depictions of Our Lady. Furthermore, its bas-reliefs were the works of another University mentor named Francesco Monti whose famous works were the illustration of La Naval procession and the image of St. Dominic, the Holy Father of the Order of Preachers. 

Rev.Fr. Jepoi Arsciwals, OP prayerfully waits for the
safe transfer of the image from the vehicle to the sanctuary.
From Santo Domingo Church, the image was escorted on a motorcade by the Chaplain and Prior of Santo Domingo Convent, Rev. Fr. Giuseppe Pietro Arsciwals, OP, together with the Dominican priests and brothers, diocesan priests, seminarians of UST Central Seminary, religious sisters, UST deans and administrators, the students and the other lay faithful. The resounding carillon bells of the UST Martyrs’ monument welcomed Our Lady while the Rector of the University, Rev. Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, OP awaited at the lobby of the Parish Church. Fr. Rector offered the rosary to Our Lady before it was enthroned. The recitation of the rosary was followed by a Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Rector and a serenade by the students of the UST Conservatory of Music. 

The Arrival of La Naval
More than a century ago, UST played a major role in the canonical coronation of La Naval, the first in the Philippines and in Asia. In 1907, UST took charge of collecting donations for her coronation. Aside from two star brooches, UST took liberty of embellishing the crown with its center jewel adorned with precious colored stones, which embody the different colleges and faculties of the University at that time. These were testified under the deeds of donation signed by the UST rector; secretary-general; deans of Law, Medicine, and Pharmacy; and 36 professors from the Colleges of Law, Pharmacy, and Medicine on Sept. 7, 1907 after the prior of the Santo Domingo Convent received the crown for the canonical coronation. 

La Naval enthroned at UST
In fact, a dedication on the inside brace of the crown states “Real y Pontifica Universidad de Santo Tomas, Manila/ los Professores a su Patrona la Santisima Virgen del Rosario en su Coronacion/ 5 de Octubre de 1907 (The Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, Manila/ the Professors to their Patroness the Most Holy Virgin of the Rosary on her Coronation/ 5 October 1907).” 

The UST Central Seminarians praying vespers
before the image of La Naval
In addition, the dated 1811 crowns of Our Lady and the Infant Christ were said to be commissioned in celebration of the second centennial foundation of the University. These crowns were meticulously crafted with gold, diamonds, jewels from donated brooches and earrings, and a precious natural Oriental pearl. 

The Parade of Colors signals the arrival of La Naval 
Our Lady stayed for an overnight vigil. The blessing of the UST Rosary garden happened the following day (December 7, 2011) before she returned to her shrine. 

A Dominican priest praying
The love story between the University of Santo Tomas and La Naval is a manifestation of God’s providence. UST did not only offer her a space in the sanctuary, donations of diamonds and other gemstones, and talented alumni to build her shrine; but also, it can be said that UST may not have persisted without the devotion to Our Lady. There is, indeed, a strong bond of history and faith that still continues today. 

Our Lady of La Naval, pray for us!

The Varsitarian, Vol. LXXIX, No. 5 • November 21, 2007
The Homily of Fr. Rector, December 6, 2011
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