Many, many years ago [a standard opening for folkloric tales; we have already established that the present church was built late in the 18th century], when the present town of Lipa was in its infancy, there lived a couple named Maria and Juan.
Maria was industrious, tender-hearted, patient and God-fearing while her husband Juan was lazy, ill-tempered and did not care for his family. He had all kinds of vice that a man could ever have.
All he wanted to do while in his house was to eat, scold and kick his wife and his children if he did not find prepared food for him. The poor wife, in order to earn some money, used to go every afternoon to a nearby forest [Lipa was at the time still heavily forested; deer and wild boar roamed in these] and gathered wood which she then sold in the market. In spite of her difficulties and sufferings, she never forgot her devotion to God.
One afternoon, while she was going to the place where she used to gather wood, she came to think of her hard life. She wept bitterly, and as she raised her eyes and arms to heaven, she saw a bright ray of light coming from a distance.
She trembled with fear, fell on her knees and asked God for help. The light seemed to approach her and instantly the image of the Virgin Mary appeared before her and said in a soft voice, “Woman fear not. I am the Virgin Mary. I come to tell you that your suffering will be rewarded in the life to come. If you just wait patiently, your suffering here will be relieved by eternal happiness in the land of the hereafter.”
At first, Maria thought that she was dreaming, but she gazed at the Virgin and the Virgin said to her, “Rise up and go thy way.”
The woman went back to the town and told the priest about what she had seen. When Maria and the priest went to the place, the Virgin was still there. They both knelt down before the Virgin and prayed solemnly. As they prayed, the light and the image gradually disappeared.
The priest and the townspeople agreed to build a church on the place where the Virgin appeared. After several months, the building was completed and that church is at present the magnificent church of the town of Lipa. From that time on, the Virgin’s feast has always been celebrated every year.
NOTE: This was commonly believed by the people at home, especially the old folks. Related by my grandmother to me. Manila, August 24.
2 “H. Otley Beyer,” Wikipedia.
3 “Lipa Cathedral,” Wikipedia.