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Home to the National Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Spanish for “Our Lady of Candles”), Marian devotees flock to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Metropolitan Cathedral to offer reverence to the image of the patroness of Western Visayas, saying a prayer in the hopes of granted petitions. Displayed on the balcony of the church facade, the limestone figure of Madonna and Child is believed to have grown since its installation, no longer fitting its original glass case. According to local lore, the statue comes alive and wanders through the plaza across the street. The miraculous nature of the Candelaria continues to be celebrated by locals during the annual fiesta of Jaro—a major fiesta in the city that often doubles as a holiday. Built in 1874 by order of His Grace Mariano Cuartero, the first bishop of Jaro, was declared Jaro Cathedral as the prime episcopal seat of the diocese, signaling the Iloilo Catholic community’s separation from the bishopric of Cebu. After its destruction by the earthquake of 1984, Archbishop Jose Maria Cuenco directed the restoration of the church to the baroque-style gothic structure it is today. The original belfry, used in the past as a watchtower to warn against intruders, stands across the cathedral.
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