In 1646, the invading Dutch greatly surprised the then Spanish colony that in the ensuing naval battles, 5 to be exact, the combined Filipino-Spanish forces consisting of two merchant galleons faced eighteen warships of the Dutch. The outnumbered defenders fought and triumphantly won. This encounter is historically known as the Battle of La Naval.
The victory was attributed to the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the commander and crew of the victorious defenders made a pilgrimage to Sto. Domingo Church at its original location in Intramuros, Manila. In 1662, the Cathedral Chapter of the Archdiocese of Manila declared it a miracle. Upon the orders of Pope Pius X, the image of the Nuestra Senora del Rosario – La Naval de Manila was canonically crowned in 5 October 1907.
The Our Lady of La Naval is the patroness of the Philippines and Sto. Domingo Church, which transferred to its present location in Quezon City in 1954 when the original edifice was bombed out during World War II, is considered a National Shrine. For many Filipinos, it is an important pilgrimage site.
Every October, on the occassion of the icon’s feast day, devotees flock to pray and pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary.