In 1617, the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) set on their third mission to the Philippines from Spain, led by Fr. Rodrigo (Moriz Aganduru) de San Miguel, OAR. They passed by Acapulco, Mexico where the image of Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) was given by the Discalced Carmelite nuns as a gift. The image served as their protectress as it sailed for over two months to the country.

In 1621, San Sebastian Church welcomed Nuestra Senora del Carmen where it was enthroned. In the same year, the Augustinian Recollect community was inaugurated in San Sebastian de Calumpang, Quiapo.

The church was pulverized by two consecutive earthquakes—one in 1863 and another in 1880. The Carmelite Prior General in Rome granted the Augustinian Recollects the permission to promote the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in San Sebastian Church. From 1887-1891, a four year project was launched to build an all-steel church of San Sebastian.

While the project was ongoing, the church was raised to a status of Minor Basilica, attached to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. By virtue of the Presidential Decree No. 260, San Sebastian Basilica was declared a National Historical Landmark in the Philippines in August 1, 1973. During the centenary of the San Sebastian Church in 1991, the image of Our Lady was canonically crowned by virtue of an Apostolic Letter of the now Sainted John Paul II.

Today’s traditional fiesta traces its beginnings when the Recollect Fathers cannot celebrate the fiesta of the Virgen with pomp. It is because the liturgical fiesta of the Virgin every July 16 is always drenched by torrential rains because of the rainy season in the country. They then petitioned the Pope for them to have a special feast and novena near the fiesta celebration of the church’s titular San Sebastian, hence the date. The date this traditional fiesta was revived and re-introduced in 2018 coinciding with the 400 year celebration of the arrival of the image of the Virgen del Carmen de San Sebastian. | via Adonis Reyes

La Virgen del Carmen de San Sebastian, ruega por nosotros!
¡Viva la Virgen! ¡Guapa!

In photo: A colorized photo of the old andas and original image of La Virgen del Carmen de San Sebastian arrayed for her fiesta.