Our Mother of Fair Love

The story of Christmas is undeniably the story of the birth of Christ, of the "word made flesh" who "dwelt amongst us". In this story, there is another personality with a very vital role whose unqualified "yes" is the reason for this joyous occasion. She willingly and quietly accepted that role out of pure and spotless love in her heart, enduring even the long journey from Nazareth in Galilee down to the little town of Bethlehem in Judea to register with her spouse Joseph in compliance with the decree of Caesar Augustus ordering a census of the "whole world". That backbreaking trek must have been doubly difficult because she was already bearing the child Jesus in her womb. In fact, while they were in Bethlehem, the "days of her confinement were completed" and she gave "birth to her first born son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged". Maybe during this holiday season we should also focus our attention on Mother Mary, the most "blessed among women" who made Christmas possible by bearing the child Jesus in her womb and bringing Him into this world two thousand and two years ago. Her love for Jesus and her spouse St. Joseph was most noble and pure that she has been also called "Mother of Fair Love".

The image of Holy Mary Mother of Fair Love shows our Lady seating and sustaining the Child Jesus, who is standing over a pile of books. The Child is holding a rose in his left hand, pressing it against His breast, and the right hand is in a gesture of giving a blessing. A life size statue of the image may be found in the University of Navarre in Pamplona Spain. It was a gift of St. Josemaria Escriva to that University so that the students and the people who work there could petition our Mother of Fair Love for a clean and noble human love.

In the Philippines, the image may also be found in the highest peak of Tagaytay City known as Mt. Gonzales. It is copied from the life size statue found in Navarre. How it got there is in itself an awe-inspiring story.

One of the known facets regarding the images of our Lady is that she chooses the place where shrines are to be built in her honor. In Antipolo she would disappear and would later be found on top of a tree where she wants her shrine built. In Rome, she had a place showered with snow in the middle of summer to show where she wants the Mary Majors Basilica should be built. In Argentina, when an image of hers was being moved from a place, the horses would not budge. But when her image was brought down, the horses trotted away happily. And now here in our very own Tagaytay, Our Lady has claimed a place to be her own.

In 1981, construction of the "Palace in the Sky" started in Mt. Gonzales. This palace was supposed to be the vacation house of the Marcoses and the place where then President Ronald Reagan would stay upon his visit to the Philippines. During the construction, the workers were instructed to remove a huge granite mass that was completely obstructing the view of the dream house. But the bulldozer could not pierce the rock and its teeth was e ven bent as it mightily tried to remove the obstruction. Dynamite blasts could not also destroy the massive rock. When they cleared one side of the rock, the workers discovered a low-relief image of our Lady, Mother of Fair Love cemented on it. It turned out that six years earlier, or in 1975, a group of high schoolers who frequent the Lauan Study Center of the Opus Dei installed the image there. They used to go there for excursions where a radio relay station was erected. Moved by their devotion to our Lady, they had as special projects placing her images at the highest peak of different mountains. They asked a craftsman skilled in making simple sculptures and working in a shop along Edsa, near West Avenue to build the four feet image. This group of boys, the sculptor and another worker chose a rock wall to attach the image there. It took them one whole day to do it, after which they prayed the Rosary.

The Palace in the Sky project has been abandoned in 1983.But local folks who learned about the image started pilgrimages to it using a winding road paved with gravel leading to the peak. In 1996, the place was rehabilitated and became the "People’s Park" to be enjoyed by the poor and ordinary tourists. A small shrine housing the image was then built on the spot where Our Lady seemed to have chosen as a place where she wants to be honored, as in many other images in different places all over the world.

During this Christmas season, a small project has been started to improve the image and make it look more like the image in the University of Navarre, to make the necessary revisions on the plaque so that it would narrate the real history, and to improve the entire surroundings of the Shrine to help pilgrims in their moments of recollection as they present their petitions to our Lady. If you find yourself in Tagaytay, don’t fail to visit our Mother of Fair Love.

A Blessed and Joyful Christmas to one and All!
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E-mail: [email protected]

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