With the Virgin Mary venerated by most of the Filipino Catholics, it is only fitting that her December 8 feast day be declared a special non-working holiday nationwide.
This was the essence of Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas’ House Bill 5241 which was approved on third and final reading by the House Committee on Revision of Laws chaired by Pangasinan 6th District Rep. Marlyn Agabas.
Section 1 of the bill provides that December 8 of every year is declared a special non-working holiday in the entire country to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Principal Patroness of the Philippines.
While Section 2 provides that the Act shall take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation
Fariñas said among 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.
As of 2013, there are about 76 million Catholic Filipinos, based on data collected by the Catholic Directory, said Fariñas.
On September 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 February 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 more to be erected under the same title.
Moreover, 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,” said Fariñas.
Fariñas said December 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.