Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Dedication of OL of Lourdes Church, Yigo
May 5, 1965

The Capuchins on Guam established most of the parishes on Guam, but Yigo stands out in a special way because that church may never had been called Our Lady of Lourdes had it not been for the Capuchins, and perhaps because of one in particular, Påle' Román María de Vera.

Påle' Román

The idea probably came about in 1919, because by early 1920, Påle' Román was already preparing a young Yigo lady named Isabel Torres Pérez to recite the novena in Chamorro which Påle' Román had written. Besides the novena, Påle' Román composed the hymn to her in Chamorro, using a Basque church melody, and taught it to a small group of young Yigo maidens, mostly sisters from the Pérez (Goyo) clan.

A very rudimentary chapel, made up of free materials from Guam's jungles, was built for the small numbers of people in Yigo at the time. As the years went on, the population grew, as Yigo was prime farming land.

The temporary chapel built in Yigo right after the war in 1945


The Spanish Capuchins who worked on Guam since 1915 were from the Basque country, in the north of Spain near the French border. They were so close to France that devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes was something easily planted in the Basque country.

Lourdes (at top of map) is not very far from Spain

When the Capuchins began a presence in Manila, Philippines, they set up a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in their church in Intramuros, and, when that was destroyed in World War II, moved it to its present location in Quezon City where it has become a National Shrine.

The Lourdes Devotion in the Capuchin Church in Manila before the War

This connection with the Capuchin Church in Manila before World War II is important because Påle' Román first served in the Philippines long before he came to Guam.


When I designed the new friary on Guam, built in 2007, I wanted to remind us all of our traditional Guam Capuchin link to the Basque Capuchins, Intramuros, Påle' Román and Our Lady of Lourdes. So I had this simple outdoor shrine made for Our Lady of Lourdes, across the Friary chapel.

People see this shrine and think of Our Lady of Lourdes, but there's more to this than that.

I pass by and think of all those things mentioned above.

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