Our Lady of Guidance

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Patron-Saints of the Philippines
Name: Our Lady of Guidance
Description: Patroness of the City of Manila
Shrine: Ermita Church, Manila
Feast day: May 19

Our Lady of Guidance also known as the Nuestra Señora De Guia is enshrined in the Ermita Church. She is the titular patroness of the City of Manila. It is one of the oldest existing Marian images in the country.



It was founded by a crew of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi on the shores of Manila Bay. It was assumed to have been left behind by Spanish missionaries who came to the islands earlier.

The image was found lodging on the improvised altar made of Pandan palms. It was adored by natives who regarded it as a diwata. they were claiming that their ancestors owned the image. they told the Spaniards that the image has the power to make wishes come true.

If the accounts were true, the image could have been older than the discovery of Manila. The image's sculptor is unknown. It was carved out from the molave variety of hardwood.

A church document describes the images as follows: the image reveals a sarong-like bodice painted in the Chinese tradition of red, blue and gold paint... the unusual stance of the virgin, from the conservative stiffness of body line, has a bent torso very much like the Chinese goddess Kuan Yin.

These characteristics shows the probability that the image may have come from an Asian or if brought by galleon traders, it could have been commissioned to an artist who gets inspiration from Asian models. After getting from the cult of pagan worship, the image was enshrined temporarily at the Manila Cathedral until a bayside church was constructed on the site it was found. In spite of its old age, the De Guia retained the ruddiness of its cheek and its youthful allure. It conveys an oriental charm Filipinos can easily identify with.


Our Lady of Guidance was the title given to our Blessed Virgin Mary by the virtue of the special miracles it performed. It served as a beacon to incoming ships in early times, particularly during bad weather.

The De Guia became the patroness of the seafarers. According to accounts, before an arrival of a trading galleon, investors would hold novena to guide and guard the merchant ships safely to the port and prevent the delay of the shipment. Mariners, in turn, gave abundant tithes to the church. Many benefactors donated and money, jewelry among many others in return for the favors they received. Cardinal Rufino J. Santos gave a set of jewels in 1960 while a solid gold crown was given as a gift by Pope Paul VI. The gifts have accumulated in big amount that's why the gifts were placed in a bank vault. Presently, the De Guia's collection is worth a king's ransom. The image was kept in a crypt behind the main altar by the Lopez family during the World War II. At the close of the war, it was transferred to Quiapo Church. It was returned to Ermita Church after a new structure was finished.


Our Lady of Guidance was canonically crowned on December 30, 1955 by the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines. The De Guia Church is frequently visited by Overseas Filipino Workers who pray for the positive results of their job application abroad. Many of them come back with letters and gifts of thanksgiving for the favors granted. There are fewer resident parishioners today compared to decades ago. Since Ermita became a business district where building occupants come and go, however it has never run out of visitors for shoppers and entrepreneurs consider the De Guia as a partner in spirit and good feng sui.

Another miracle attributed to Our Lady was told by Parish Pastoral Council president, Antonio S. Adriano, caretaker of the image for many years now. The Adrianos used to live at the back of the church patio. When a fire broke out in the neighborhood, the image was taken and placed between the fire and the row of houses, within seconds, the fire died down.

Feast day

The feast of Our Lady of Guidance is celebrated every May 19. A flower-tossing ceremony is held where young women headed by a Capitana, who is chosen on the basis of standards set by the Parish Council. It is believed that the Capitana is the personal choice of Our Lady, for even if a vote is casted in favor of one candidate, if she does not end up with the role for one reason or another, the true choice will still emerge. The privilege to serve as a Capitana is considered a great honor by the young women of Ermita. The young girls pass down the line of honor guards going to the altar in a solemn candlelight ceremony and lay bouquets at the feet of our Lady whom they consider their guide for life.


  • Barcelona, Mary Anne. Ynang Maria: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines. Edited by Consuelo B. Estepa, Ph.D. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc, 2004.



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