Thursday, November 5, 2009
The Centennial Vestment
The Queen’s coronation gown
By Gino U. Marasigan
Last updated 11:35pm (Mla time) 09/09/2007
MANILA, Philippines – On Oct. 4, the Philippine Church and the entire Dominican family will celebrate the centennial of the canonical coronation of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, La Naval de Manila.
For this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, a very special dress is being made since February and is now on its final stages of embroidery. It will be ready for the commemoration of 100 years of the Filipinos’ love and devotion for the Queen of the Holy Rosary.
On Oct. 5, 1907, His Holiness Pope Pius X declared the venerated image was a beacon of faith and hope for the Filipino people, and recognized the miraculous cures and favors granted to her devotees.
On that day, a huge crowd gathered in various places at Plaza de Isabel II, Paseo de Magallanes, Plaza de Santo Tomas, Plaza de Santo Domingo, and Intendencia in Intramuros—to witness the canonical coronation. It was the first papally approved coronation of a Marian icon in the history of the Philippine Church.
For that occasion, the image wore a magnificent gold-embroidered cape with the signature papaya-leaf design and a gilt-silver plancha (frontal) which is still in use today.
The robes, offerings from el pueblo filipino, were locally crafted using flat metallic and bullion threads from Europe.
In an atelier in the metropolis is an elaborately designed and resplendently crafted dress being given the final touches by a team of 10 sewers and needlepoint workers.
After almost seven months of intense and intricate needlework under the supervision of the bordadera, Nena Bernales, interweaving vines, palm fronds, and garlands of roses have come to life.
The original design by Arthur Munar left virtually no empty space on the basic lamé. To distinguish one floral figure from the other elements of the design, Bernales used a mix of metallic and genuine Indian gold inuod threads (because of its worm-like appearance).
Millimeter by millimeter, thread by thread, the dress is being fashioned to perfection.
The exquisite apparel is a gift to Our Lady of La Naval by the family of Eddie Chua. Through the years, many benefactors and Marian devotees have offered gifts to Our Lady in the form of heirloom jewelry or gala dresses, as tokens of gratitude.
Some gifts easily come to mind, such as the Carrascoso dress, also known as the numero dos, which was worn in the 1950s and fabricated in Spain using gold threads.
In the 1960s, a quite unique dress was made in Vietnam, using an Oriental motif, and was worn by the image as a pambahay after the October festivities.
A pink-and-blue dress, given by the family of Dr. Rolando and Nancy Mendoza, is usually worn by the Virgin in May.
A complete ensemble using gold thread for the blouse and skirt was given by Dr. Joey and Chary Sollano in 1993.
For Bernales and her family, the opportunity to sew the Virgin’s dress for such an important occasion as the centennial of the canonical coronation is not just an honor and a privilege, but truly the fulfillment of a lifetime dream. As a teenage girl, she chose to stay indoors doing her delicate gantsilyo edgings for her mother’s pillowcases, half-hoping that one day she, too, would have the chance to offer something beautiful to the Virgen de La Naval.