Note: This is the summarized version of my article that will soon come out in the coffee table book about the 100 years of missionary presence of the SVD (Societas Verbi Divini) or the Divine Word Missionaries in the Philippines.


The Virgin of the Poor – Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay


Have you seen this image of the Blessed Virgin Mary? This is the Lady of Banneux or more popularly known as the “Virgin of the Poor.” On the 15th of January 1933 (24th death anniversary of our founder St. Arnold Janssen), a silent apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary happened to a young girl named Mariette Beco in Banneux Norte Dame, province of Liége, Belgium. In this apparition, the Blessed Virgin introduced herself as the “Virgin of the Poor” and it quickly spread like fire. Soon after, on the Feast of the Assumption of that same year, the chapel requested by Our Lady was blest and was attended by sixty thousand people. On August 22, 1949, the Bishop of Liége recognized the authenticity of the apparitions at Banneux.


It was the poverty of our humble beginnings in the SVD Philippine mission that inspired Fr. Joseph Heuwagen, SVD to bring the first statue of the Virgin of the Poor to our country. From later part of the 1950’s until the 1980s, the German Secretariat of Banneux dispatched statues for their compatriots’ mission stations around the world. During Fr. Joseph Heuwagen’s visit to Banneux in the autumn of 1957, German pilgrims donated him a statue of the Virgin of the Poor. He brought the statue upon his return from his home leave. He wrote,

It is interesting that the customs in Manila released the statue on 15 January, anniversary of the first apparition…The statue arrived in February. As day of its blessing, I chose 2 March, the last day of the apparition in Banneux, so that I would have enough time to make the Virgin of the Poor known through sermons and public relations. (Jungfrau der Armen, n°3/1958, translated by Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD)

The site of the very first statue of the Virgin of the Poor in the Philippines was St. Joseph Parish, Claveria, Cagayan, some 600 km at the northernmost tip of Luzon. Fr. Joseph also reported that the attendance of the rosary has doubled! He added that his confrere was also surprised to see that never in the past two years so many people received Holy Communion during March.

Since then, many statues of the Virgin of the Poor were installed by the Divine Word Missionaries in various parts of the country.

Fr. Francis Kutscher, SVD donated a statue to the people in the town of Binmaley, Pangasinan in 1961. Eventually, the Virgin of the Poor became the patroness of the town’s municipal seat.

Fr. Herman Hermes, SVD also enshrined another statue of the Virgin of the Poor in the village chapel in Velasco, Tayum, Abra in 1962.

Bishop William Joseph Duschak, SVD also received several statues for the Vicariate of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro from 1960s to 1970s. He even encouraged that all people who come to Church must approach the Virgin and greet her first and say goodbye to her after the Holy Mass. One of these statues can be seen at the St. Augustine Major Seminary (SASMA) in Tagaytay City.

Fr. Victor Tunkel, SVD was one of the recipients of the Lady’s image from Bishop Duschak. He had it installed at the Blessed Trinity Parish in Baco, Oriental, Mindoro. When he became the director of Villa Cristo Rey in Christ the King, he procured another image for its chapel. The other image of the Virgin of the Poor beside the Shrine of the Divine Word in Christ the King was installed by Fr. Georg Heinemann, SVD in 1974. He was also the one who installed the Virgin of the Poor in Divine Word Seminary of Tagaytay.

Fr. George Koschincki, SVD was also a recipient of the statue in 1970.

Fr. Joseph Watzlawik, SVD also enshrined the Virgin of the Poor at the Sto. Niňo Parish in Guba, Cebu in 1971.

Fr. Bernard Pues, SVD offered another statue in 1974 to his good friends Feliciano and Thelma Magsakay in San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro. The statue was transferred to the Magsakay Residence in Paraňaque in 1991 and since then, the statue has joined the annual procession on the feast of the Divine Mercy.

In 1976, Fr. Godehard Schaller, SVD installed the Virgin of the Poor near the tomb of Msgr. Antonio Buenafe, SVD, former rector of ST. Joseph Minor Seminary of Bangued, Abra.

Fr. Paul Scholl, SVD also reported a statue of the Virgin of the Poor at Sto. Niňo Parish in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro in 1984. That same year, Fr. Johan Glanemann, SVD also received a statue for the now Archdiocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Tigbao, Leyte.

In 1990, the SVD parish of the Risen Christ in Smokey Mountain, Tondo, Manila also received a statue of the Virgin of the Poor courtesy of Sr. Bernadette Winkel, SSpS. The ever-active Blue Sister spent her apostolate in the area.

Fr. Dino Ariola, SVD received a statue in 1996 and he had it enshrined at the Holy Name University (formerly Divine Word College).

Locally made images of the Virgin of the Poor also circulated. One of these is the one located at the SVD Retreat House in Tangalan, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. This image was installed by Fr. Erwin Thiel, SVD. However, this property has been sold to the Locsin family.

On the 50th anniversary of the recognition of the apparitions (1999), three of the four sites visited by pilgrims from Quezon City were related to the SVD and all three were in Tagaytay City: First, the legionaries went to the St. Augustine Major Seminary (once administered by SVD); Then, they also put the invocations to the Virgin of the Poor at the Lady’s grotto in Divine Word Seminary-Tagaytay, and; they also honored the Lady at the cloister garden of the Pink Sisters -Tagaytay.


The intimacy between the Virgin of the Poor and the Divine Word Missionaries also extended to our co-missionaries. On year 2000, the DWST librarian Woody Mallari installed a local image of the Virgin of the Poor in the DWST library which attracted many seminarians, priests and visitors. Kuya Woody, as we call him, also helped in the propagation of the image.

Since 2006, SVD ordinands in Tagaytay received a statue of the Virgin of the Poor on the day of their ordination, courtesy of Lei Lopez, a good friend of the SVD. The Sangmithi Class was the first to receive on February 2006, followed by Yobel Class on February 2007; then, Dakit Class on February 2008, and Pantas Class on December of the same year.

This is a testament that the Virgin of the Poor continues to draw her SVD sons to herself, especially the younger generations to always connect us with the poverty of our beginnings and to constantly remind us to continue our mission for the poor.


Seminarista Pa Lang Ako Nito

— The author would like to thank Milagros I. Dolores, author of the book The Virgin of the Poor: A Tribute from her Filipino Children.

Check out the latest update on BASE AWARDS.

Next post will be September 14, Monday.






  1. May naintindihan na ako sa story ng SVD. DAti kasi Jesuit lang ang nasusundan ko.

    Father naka-attend po ako sa Mass ni Mama Mary sa St James The Apostle officiated by Father Jerry Orbos.

  2. Haha…salamat Father!…Yehey….nabigla nga lang ako kasi…bigla lang akong napadaan…Di pa sana ako mabe-beys kasi parang tahimik ang tambayan…baka kako di kasali pa ang post na ito…
    Isip ko bahala na at mag-beys na rin ako.

    @Darbs…thanks…..minutes lang ang una ko sa iyo.

  3. congrats darbs!

    may 80 points ka na sa BASE AWARDS!

    Thanks! Panigurado lang. Sensya na Father Fel, may pagkasigurista lang…hehehe.

    Base points aside:

    Akong naobserbahan ba nga tanang religious order, dikit giod kaayo kang Mama Mary.

    Naa sad koy isa nga naobserbahan nga halos tanan nga nakilala nako nga nahimong obispo, kang Mama Mary giod nagsumikad. Closeness with Mama Mary (Inahan sa Kanunayng Panabang)

    • yes, that is true. in fact, sa tradition ng mga SVD, ang last word na binabanggit namin as a community in our evening prayers is “maria.”

      “nos cum prole pia, benedicat virgo Maria”

      mas maganda ito sa latin kasi pag itranslate sa english, di na maria ang last word…”Mary with your loving Son, bless us each and everyone…”

  4. “So far Superlolongpinoy is leading the race with 120 points! Congratulations sa mga naka-base! This is so exciting! More posts to come…Next post is September 12. God bless”

    Father nagkamali ka yata sa next post date?

  5. Haha…kaya ako nag-post kasi natutuwa ako Father. kasi naniniwala ako nothing happens by accident. Talagang may gumawa ng paraan para maka-attend ako dun sa Mass…divine intervention ika nga. Ayun naka 100 pts tuloy ako ngayon…hehe. Salamat po!

    • When i was a kid, i am so thrilled hearing stotries about aparitions father. Ewan di ko ma-describe yung feeling na iniimagine mo nagpapakita sayo ang mga banal sa langiT. Kaso po nalilito lang ako sa dami ng mga virgins. (teka…. ako din ata virgin pa?! aheheh jowkness!) (patawad po father maluko lang)

      Had 60 + 40 = 100 points na ako… kanina pa ako antay ng entry since 12 am pinas taym, kaso nagutom ako ayun! pagbalik ko wahhhhh kaboooom!!!!! dagsa na ang BASE! glad made it to the top 5. ahahaha “i thank you” 😀

  6. ang ano. naman. haha ang bibilis nilang magbase father nako naman.

    42nd na ko??

    wat da!!


    tutumbling muna ko father kasi ansa office ako..


  7. Ako kaya may maabutan pang BASE?hehe
    father, dmi ko natucnan.honestly kc minsan nagtataka ako.bkit ibaiba ang image ng virgin mary?

    • Sori po napindot agad ang submit.
      How about po halimbawa yong mother of perpetual help, yong our lady of manaog, lady of fatima,etc .related din po ba sila kay virgin mary?

    • Lahat ng titles refer to the same individual named Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

      Ang ibang mga titles ni Mary ay dogmatic in nature, referring to Marian beliefs that the Church views as necessary for salvation. like Mary, Mother of God.

      Some are descriptive titles which were invoked to gain favor, like Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, Lady of Good Voyage.

      Some are titles referring to her as instrument of evangelization in a certain area, like our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima…

      Many other titles are poetic or allegorical and have lesser or no canonical status, but which form part of popular piety, with varying degrees of acceptance by the clergy.

  8. Pero ayos lang kahit huli na. Maraming salamat Padre Fiel sa impormasyong inyong iniwan.

    Napakadami ngang mga ganitong pangitain. Kahit sa ibang panig ng mundo ay may mga ganito. Ano nga kaya ang gustong ipahayag nito.

  9. ano ba ang dapat namin gawin, father Fiel?

    nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa. sa bawat araw na lumilipas ay pakiwari ko wala ng saysay ang buhay ko. wala ng katatagan na nananalaytay sa dugo ko. hindi ko alam kung paano ko ipagpapatuloy ang mundo ng blogosperyo.

    nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa. kailan ba ako makakabase dito? look father, anong makukuha ng 64th baser?

  10. hhmmmm. hindi ko pa ganun kakilala ang mga SVD. but i’ll pray for your Society. and for more vocations. anyways, congrats SVD for 100 years of mission to the Philippines.

  11. Hi Father Felmar! kamusta po? wow parang napuntahan ko narin po ang SVD. Nung hayskul po kasi kapag may recollection at retreat sa school, pero parang madalas po kami sa La Salette sa Silang, Cavite. Tapos daraan narin po sa Pink Sisters, naalala ko yung cookies nila dun na nabibili na yung mga madre din po ang gumagawa. ang sarap talaga ng cookies na yun! hehe. 🙂

  12. aku hindi papu aku nakakapunta jan, peru sana makalibut minsan..

    naku fr. fiel, kakapost mu palang sobrang dami na ng comment, at sobrang late naku, senyalis ito na hindi naku makaka base kahit kelan! hehehe.. 🙂

  13. si mama mary.. meron kami nyan sa bahay.
    meron din painting nyan ang kuya ko

    na nagbbibigay sigla sa aming sala-ang imahe ni mama mary..


    patumbling muna ang hamster..

    ihahanda ko na sarili ko sa

    alas dose ng madaling araw sa darating na next post

  14. pang 102 ako. ok lang 1+2 eh equals 3 yan ang birth DAY ko.
    haha. gumawa ng sariling relevancy

    sa claveria pala sya naunang i install.. at ang daming pari na SVD ang involved hehe. history talaga ito. ^^

    to be honest, padz, now lang ako nakakita ng image nya na ganyan ang looks.. or siguru nakakita na ako before without knowing Virgin of The Poor pala tawag sa kanya…..


  15. ay kulelat na naman ako. tu kasing mga anak ang babagal.

    anyway, i’m very grateful to all who serves the poor and the needy. thanks ulit.

  16. BASE!!!!

    walang kokontra, bwahahahaha!!

    pads, pano yan, galing ako sa laboy, eto hinihingal pa, hehehe..

    wow, very informative tayo ngaun ah! ngaun ko lang nakita to.. thanks for posting this pads! Godbless!

  17. Base din Father!

    Hindi na aabot ang lolo sa next base…inaantok na..zzzzz

    Gud nyt na Father & Congrats sa mga makaka-base para sa Sept 14 post.

  18. “Fr. Francis Kutscher, SVD donated a statue to the people in the town of Binmaley, Pangasinan in 1961. Eventually, the Virgin of the Poor became the patroness of the town’s municipal seat.”

    Father parang familiar nga ang the Virgin of the poor sa Pangasinan kasi malapit kami sa Binmaley. Nakita ko na rin po to dun!

    • Hello Fr. Castrodes!

      Just happened to read your jokes which are very “human”. However, I would like to suggest that you put a comma after SVD.

      Fr. Ulrich Schlecht, SVD, was assigned in Agusan for many years. Ok?

      Will surely continue to read your jokes. I almost finished my M.A. at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City. Was briefly employed by the late (?) Fr. Ludwig Lehmeir, SVD, in one Summer. Fr. Schlecht has been a family friend for ages, if I may add.

      Thanks a bunch. Keep up the great humor and writings.

  19. Pingback: JANSSENVILLE « Felmar's Missionary Journey

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