THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill declaring Dec. 8 a special non-working holiday in the entire country to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the nation’s Principal Patroness.
House Bill 5241, authored by House Majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, was endorsed for plenary approval by the committee on revision of laws chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.
Fariñas said Dec. 8 was declared a holy day of obligation by Pope Clement XI in 1708 for Catholics all over the world, in honor of the holiness and purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He said the Catholic Church has continuously propagated the doctrine concerning the original innocence of the undefiled Blessed Virgin Mary and by this most significant fact, the Church declared that the conception of Mary must be venerated as extraordinary, wonderful, eminently holy, and different from the conception of all other human beings.
“Hence, the Church requires public devotion and veneration of the faithful during the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, in some countries such as Guam and Malta, Catholics take the day off from work and school to observe said feast,” said Fariñas.
Fariñas said as one of the titles under which Mary is venerated in the country, the Immaculate Conception is one of the most prominent and its feast highly observed by members of the Catholic Church.
“Philippines is predominantly Catholic and is the third largest Catholic country in the world,” Fariñas said
As of 2013, there are about 76-million Catholic Filipinos, based on data collected by the Catholic Directory, Fariñas added.
On Sept. 12, 1942, Fariñas said Pope Pius XII, through the Apostolic letter Impositi Nobis, declared the Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, as the Principal Patroness of the Philippines.
The lawmaker said the invocation of the Immaculate Conception dates back to Feb. 8, 1578. Pope Gregory XIII, in a Bull, issued a decree that the Manila Cathedral should be erected under the invocation of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Following this, Pope Clement VIII decreed several cathedrals to be erected under the same title.
Also, one of the three ships that reached the Philippines in the voyage of Magellan in 1521 was the Concepcion, named after the Immaculate Conception, which travelled with the ships Trinidad and Victoria.
“Thus, the country before being named Filipinas and even before the name of Christ had begun to be preached, saw on these shores the name of Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception,” Fariñas said.