NATIONAL SHRINE

OF OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE

Biga, Silang, Cavite



In November 1941, three newly ordained La Salette priests  boarded the SS President Grant in San Francisco to sail to the La Salette Missionaries in Burma. On December 8, Pearl Harbor was bombed and America was at war with Japan. The passengers of the ship were ordered to disembark and sleep on the shore.

 

Manila was occupied by the Japanese who placed all foreigners under house arrest. The three priest: Joseph Descoteau, John Doherty and Fred Julien sought and found refuge with the Jesuits. In 1944, Fathers Descoteau and Julien were moved to Los Banos, a hill country 40 miles of Manila, where they joined other internees; two bishops, 243 priests, nuns and brothers plus 2000 Protestant Missionaries and their families. Father Doherty remained in Manila.

 

Having discovered the Japanese plan to execute the internees, General Douglas McArthur mapped out daring rescue. In early morning of February 23, 1945, while Japanese were doing their calisthenics, some 200 U.S. paratroopers dropped from the heavens and separated Japanese from their guns. As the first paratrooper touches the ground, the Filipino guirellas scouts hidden in the nearby mountain surrounded the camp and begun their attack.

 

"A fierce battle took place." said Father Julien. "Bullets flew over our heads. We all lay flat on the ground praying the rosary. I was convinced some of us would die. Trembling from head to foot and unable to control my head pounding on the ground, I promised Our Lady of La Salette to erect a shrine in her honor should she help me survive." Amphibian tanks broke through the fences and the internees were herded on even Japanese continued shelling from the hills. Miraculously, not even one internee was killed. The camp went up in flames.

 

Soon the three La Salettes were reunited and deported to the states where they petitioned the Seven Dollar Province to allow them to return to the Philippines. Back in Los Banos in 1944, Bishop Constance Jurgens invited Fathers Descoteau and Julien to come to Isabela, a province up north, to help when the war was over. A postulatum, therefore, petitioning for the Philippine mission and signed by the La Salette in Texas and Louisiana was presented in the Provincial Chapter in 1948. But the decision is to maintain Burma.

 

Henceforth, all ensuing correspondences were addressed to Father Elmeric Dubois,   the  Provincial  ofthe Immaculate Heart of Mary Province, eventually paving the way to acceptance of the Philippine Mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shrine Chapel

 

 

The interior of the Chapel

 

 

The sanctuary and the altar

 

 

 

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