Our Lady of Caysasay
There are may stories regarding the origin of our Lady of Caysasay. The one officially accepted by the parish tells that the image was found by a fisherman, Juan Maningcad way back in 1603 in the small town of Taal in Barrio Caysasay.
A simple and honest man, Juan prostrated himself before the image and carried it home. Soon enough, the whole village came to know about his remarkable catch. The town authorities and the Vicar who represented the King of Spain went to Juan’s home to verify the story. On seeing the little statue of the blessed Virgin of the Immaculate Conception about six inches high radiating a heavenly luster which baffled the onlooker, they all knelt down to pay homepage to Our Lady. The image was said to be found with kingfisher which in the Taal dialect was called “Caysasay”.
They themselves decided that the image be brought to Taal, the capital of the province of Batangas, where they caused a feast to be celebrated with Mass amid the pealing of bells. The image was later placed under the care of Mrs. Maria Espiritu, the widow of the town’s judge, who had a special urn made for its safekeeping.
Then, strange things began to happen. Mrs. Espiritu found the urn empty one day, but the next morning the image was back in the urn. This is incident was repeated a number of times, and Mrs. Espiritu reported the matter to the parish priest.
To investigate the mysterious coming to going of the image, the priest decided to setup parish volunteers to keep vigil beside the urn. With eager hearts they sat waiting and praying, and they did see the urn being opened by itself and they saw with their own eyes the glorious image going out and then the villagers should now come with lighted candles and follow the image the next time it left. When this finally happened, the image led them to Caysasay, to the place where it was originally found. When the imaged returned to the urn, the priest decided to transfer it from Maria Espiritu’s house to the church of Taal for safekeeping. But same thing happened in the church till the image completely disappeared and was nowhere to be found.
After several years, in 1611, two women gathering firewood near the place where the image was originally found, saw the image reflected on the water that sprung on the spot. They looked up and saw the image atop the branch of a tall sampaga bush with two lighted candles on each side, amongst kingfisher birds called Casaycasay which the Spaniards at that time pronounced as Caysasay. They hurried back to town and reported what they saw to the parish priest. The people and the parish priest finally concluded that it was the Virgin’s wish to stay in Caysasay, so they decided to build a chapel on the very spot where the image was found.
It was also in 1611 that the apparition of Our Lady to an almost blind native slave girl, Juana Tangui and around 30 women, was recorded by the church ordinario. From the miraculous cure of her eyes during the apparition, the well water, now known as “Balon ng Sta. Lucia” and the adjoining stream, now known as “Banal na Tubig” have been known to possess miraculous attributes of healing to this day. An arch or dome was constructed after 1611 over the wells, which generally marks the spot of her apparitions and is today called “Banal na Pook”.
The construction of the church was attended by an occurrence the old townspeople liked to recall. When the first chapel was torn down to make the way for a better one, the people found the site to be a rocky area and the only water that could be found was salty. The people evoked the virgin’s aid, and suddenly, fresh drinking water sprang from the rock near the rising church; and the builders quenched their thirst from the miraculous spring.
In 1952, the then reigning Bishop, Rufino Santos decreed that the image of Our Lady of Caysasay, be permanently enshrined in the Sanctuary of Caysasay, but the people of Taal vehemently requested that the Image be brought to the Basilica of Saint Martin in Taal every Saturday afternoon where she now stays until Thursday, when she is again brought back to Caysasay, a practice which has kept the devotion to her alive in two places.
The Image of Our Lady of Caysasay, enshrined in its Sanctuary in Caysasay, was canonically crowned on December 8, 1954 during the reign of Pope Pius XII.