The mystery behind the ivory forearm of the Blessed Virgin Mary image in Sto. Tomas Church La Union

The patroness of the town of Sto. Tomas, La Union is the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title Nuestra Señora Virjen del Mar Cuativa.

In this simple unassuming church, this image of the Blessed Mother reigns, which has a most interesting tale. In 1845, Fr. Santiago Romero the parish priest of Sto. Tomas at the time,

Nuestra Señora Virjen del Mar Cuativa Church

Nuestra Señora Virjen del Mar Cuativa Church

asked some sculptors in Manila to carve three statues to be enshrined at the parish church- one for the Blessed Mother, another for St. Michael and the third for the Holy Guardian Angels. In July of the same year, the statues were packed in three boxes and sent to Sto. Tomas by sailboat named Matutina via China Sea.

Pirates from Jolo, however attacked the sailboat but miraculously, no one among the outnumbered crewmen died who sought the intercession of the Blessed Mother for help & protection. The pirates seized all their belongings including the boxes containing the images. They mocked the statues and cut the left forearm of the Statue of Mother Mary, then threw the boxes into the sea. The box that contained the Blessed Mother’s statue is the only thing that floated to the shores of Bolinao where it was amazingly found dry by Christian Soldiers. When they found out that the statue was addressed to Sto. Tomas, La Union, they immediately wrote to the town’s parish priest, who in return requested that the holy image be sent to Sto. Tomas.

In July 19, 1845, the holy image was brought to the parish church amidst ringing of church bells, singing and reveling. Since then, many miracles, cures and conversions to the Catholic faith, safe & easy childbirth, have been attributed to her. An Augustinian had replaced the statue’s lost arm with a golden forearm. It was said however that that it did not fit the body of the image and was observed to have shrunk everyday until it completely fell off the statue on the third day. It was replaced with an ivory arm, but the same thing happened. Thus, devotees tied the ivory forearm with metal string to avoid falling off, which remains to this day.

The Nuestra Señora Virjen del Mar Cuativa Church, a man made pilgrimage, is a popular attraction in the province of La Union.

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