Basilica of Our Lady of Charity in Agoo, La Union
Our Lady of Charity is also known locally as Apo Caridad. It is also remarked as the Protrectress of Ilocandia's crops and harvests from pestilence and natural calamities, and widely known for "precipitating rain in times of draught". Our Lady of Charity made the town of Agoo a major religious center of the north.
In 17 century, a three men set out to collect sea salt for preserving the meat for the copper miners, before reaching the bay of Nipe, the strong storm came. As they need to encamped themselves because their canaos were ruined by the storm. They seen a small bundle floating on a piece of wood that they mistook for a sea bird. In reality, it was a small statue of Mother Mary holding the infant Jesus in her left arm and a gold cross in her right. Inscribed on the wooden board were the words, Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad (I am the Virgin of Charity).
In the Philippines, the images are ancient, it was dated back to the early years of the Spanish colonization. The image of Our Lady of Charity or Apo Caridad de Agoo was enshrined at the Basilica in Agoo, La Union, and the other image also called as Apo Caridad de Bantay was at the Parish Church of Bantay, Ilocos Sur. The shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad in Bantay, Ilocos Sur was founded by Fr. Juan de Montoya, OSA.
Apo Caridad de Agoo
It is also refers to Our Lady of Cord, because it wears a cord around its waistline in the of Augustinian cincture, with likeness to Cincture of the San Agustin Church in Manila. Caridad was the title given to her by the Ilocano devotees, in gratitude for favors received from her charitable hand.
The people believed that their rich land and sea resources are because of the infinite charity and compassion for them of Our Lady of Charity.
The crowned head of the original a foot-high statue is made of baked clay covered with a polished coat of fine white power. Her feet rest on a brilliant moon, while angels spread their golden wings on a silver cloud. The child Jesus raises his right hand as in a blessing, and in his left hand he holds a golden globe.
Apparitions and Miracles
In 1660, Andres Malong, a Pangasinan chieftain, led an army of 3,000 men consisting of Calansans, Tingguans and Aetas of Zambales that invaded Ilocos and Cagayan. The following year, they sacked the town of Bantay, leaving 800 dead. The Zambals attempted to set fire to the church for three times. But fortunately, the fire would not start even if the cogon roof was very dry.
In time of World War II, three bombs fell on the roof of the church but not one of them exploded. When other bombs exploded, the walls were distructed and in the middle of it, found the statue of the Virgin, without damage.
Ms. Nieves narrates that as she was removing the manto in the process of changing the Virgin's clothes, she found amorseco burs stuck to the lower hem of the dress. She eyed on it closer and counted it. They speculated that Apo Caridad went out for a walk.