Nowhere else to turn to? No need to travel far for answered prayers.

“Just pray from the heart.”

This was the message, believed to be from the Blessed Virgin Mary, as spoken by a woman named Melanie during Mama Mary’s birthday last September 8, 1999.

The lady said, “If you have any problems, come to me … and, just pray from the heart. I will be the one to intercede for you with my Son.”

Our Rosary Cenacle group composed of four couples together with residents of Park 14 in Marikina Heights had just finished praying the Rosary and were preparing for a simple agape when I noticed Melanie in tears and distressed about what to do.

“I am hearing a woman’s voice and she has a message she wants conveyed to the group,” she stuttered. (Later, she explained that this was the first time she experienced that so she did not know what to do because she was afraid that people might think she was crazy.)

Convinced that she was not faking this, I called the attention of the group who immediately faced her as words continuously flowed from her supposedly from the Blessed Mother who thanked everyone gathered, especially the lady volunteers who clean the Marian Monument and its surroundings everyday.

That was twelve years ago. Today, we hear of many testimonials about how prayers were answered after praying from the heart here at the Marian Consecration Grounds located at Park 15 (Hardin ng Bayan) in Marikina Heights.

Answered prayers

One particular story stands out. My first cousin, Bong Buendia, was diagnosed with cancer by the country’s top oncologist in St. Luke’s Hospital on a Wednesday more than 6 years ago. We accompanied him and his entire family to the “shrine” on Saturday. We prayed the rosary around noon. He prayed from the heart as instructed. Two days after on a Monday, doctors could not believe that there was no trace of cancer. The best oncologist could not have committed a mistake, they thought. Thinking the second test was a fluke, it had to take three more tests before they finally acknowledged on the fifth time that the cancer was totally gone. That was a Saturday – a First Saturday!

Another testimonial comes from my dad, Teodoro. You know how lawyers are when it comes to religion. So, it was unusual coming from him. Especially, since he led a hedonistic lifestyle during his heyday. It was the first anniversary of the “shrine” then (June 2000) and he was pushing the cart where the image was during the procession. Suddenly, he experienced a pain so intense – because of his gout – that he thought of not continuing with the procession and to walk back instead where the Mass was going to be held. However, he was inspired to say internally, “Mama Mary, I will continue with the procession and offer the pain. But please, touch my life.” It was only three weeks after when he realized that he could make do without the maintenance medicines he took for gout and hypertension. My dad’s conversion happened at the age of 69. He is now 81. He has been praying the rosary 4 times a day and attending daily Mass ever since.

Word of mouth

There are times we chance upon strangers praying before the 3-foot image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Many of them learned about the “shrine” from others whose prayers were answered after visiting the Marian Consecration Grounds.

One lady in particular said she came all the way from Mindoro. I asked her how she came to know about the “shrine” … a sick relative told them back home about how he was healed after visiting this place in Marikina.

It truly warms the heart to see people from all walks of life walking towards the image and expressing their devotion in many different ways. There is a sampaguita vendor who offers a few strands of what she sells and leaves it at the Marian Monument very early in the morning before she starts her daily routine.

There is a couple who bring their own cleaning apparatus all the way from Bgy. Parang, about 2 kilometers away, to wash and wipe the monument, clean the glass, and spruce up the landscaping. We got to know the man who was an ex-convict. You could see that what he was doing came from the heart and that he did it out of love. He passed away two years ago.

All these devotees … through word of mouth alone.

A gift from Fatima, Portugal

The image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was a gift of Sister Lucia of Fatima, Portugal – the only living visionary of the 1917 apparitions and the miracle of the sun, at that time (June 1999). She sent ten images for installation in the Philippines through Grupo Da Imaculada which was based in Fatima. We were able to have one installed here in Marikina thru the kindness of Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Manila.

Grupo Da Imaculada is assisted by His Watchful Servants Foundation, Marian Foundation, and St. Joseph Apostolate Center in this particular shrine.

One of our spiritual directors, Fr. Lester Louis Niez of Alagad ni Maria, advised us to document all testimonials of answered prayers and miracles so it can eventually be submitted to the Bishop of Antipolo and to the Vatican.

It is so easy to get to this Marian sanctuary. It is just right across the C&B Circle Mall and diagonal to the St. Scholastica’s Academy campus in Marikina Heights.

You don’t have to go all the way to Piat, Cagayan or to the Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine in Pangasinan to pray for healing or any other petition. We have a place just right here in Metro Manila where prayers are easily answered … if one prays from the heart.

So why don’t you drop by one of these days?

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