The miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary, popularly known today as our Lady of Piat, for brevity, was sculptured in Macao, then a colony of Portugal. The image was originally named Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario (Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary) by the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. The Ibanag today call her Yena Tam Ngamin ("Mother of Us All"), while to Ilocano-speaking natives of Piat she is known as Apo Baket ("Venerable Matriarch") – a title also used for several images of the Virgin enshrined throughout northern Luzon. The image is also called the "Black Virgin Mary", as its skin color is dark brown (muy morena)—which is cited as an appealing characteristic of the Blessed Virgin.
Presumably, upon the request of the Dominican Missionaries, the image was brought to the Philippines sometime in the year 1604. The recorded provenance of the image of Our Lady of Piat began in Macau, from where it was brought to Manila in 1604. The Basilica of Our Lady of Piat in the Philippines is located on the outskirts of the city of Piat, in the province of Cagayan. Eventually, the image was enshrined on a side altar in Piat. It was not long when people felt special manifestations of divine favors through the image. Their love and devotion to the Virgin had grown with the years, and attachment to her image bordered fanaticism. This was clearly seen when Fr Juan de Santa Ana sent the same image to Tuguegarao City in 1622 and ordered another one more beautiful from Manila to replace the image. The people promptly protested this, insisting that the original image be returned to them. De Santa Ana finally gave in, and the image was brought back amidst great rejoicing. There arose, however, a dispute between the peoples of Piat and Tuao as to where the image's sanctuary should be; both towns agreed to build the shrine midway between them. The statue was enthroned in Piat inside a small chapel on December 26, 1623, the feast of Saint Stephen. The occasion lived long in everyone's memory because of the incredible number of people it attracted, in a sparsely populated region, where evangelization had only begun less than 25 years earlier.
The statue of Our Lady of Piat was carried in procession to other cities, hence her other name of "Our Lady of the Visitation". In the 17th century, the Visitation was celebrated on July 2, which is why the feast of the shrine is still celebrated on July 2. Miraculous healings are still reported to this day. Pope Pius XII granted the image a Canonical Coronation and was crowned on 20 June 1954 through the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Egidio Cardinal Vagnozzi. On June 22, 1999, the shrine was elevated to the rank of minor basilica.
It celebrates its feast every July 2 wherein the lady is drawn for a procession. Centered then on the “sambali”, the Piat townsfolk celebrate the Sambali Festival from June 23 to 30. The festivity flows into the celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Piat from July 1 to 2.
On June 28–30, 2011, the icon participated in the parade of 12 famous Marian icons from the northern part of the country during the “Third Marian Voyage of Peace and Love” at the Cagayan Foundation Day. The voyage was organized by the Cagayan North Convention & Visitors Bureau (CNCVB), the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, and the Department of Tourism (DoT), with the provincial government cooperating to boost Cagayan’s campaign as a pilgrimage center. On July 9, 2011, the lady was honored by a special Mass at the Santo Domingo Church in Manila.
It is said that one who sees the image of Our Lady of Piat for the first time will be surprised by its natural charm and appeal. This might be explained by the fact that the image is life-size, and has features very similar to our own. It is made of carved wood, and with the passing of time, it has taken a natural brown color so peculiar to Filipinos. Before the missionaries arrived in the valley, the people had surely no idea about Our Lady, but once brought to their knowledge their love and devotion for her was spontaneous. Their simple faith and confidence in Our Lady won for them her all-powerful intercession. Her sanctuary is veritably the Mecca of the whole Cagayan Valley.
Prayer to Our Lady Of Piat
Oh Virgin Mary our Lady of the
Visitation of Piat, I have recourse to
you today. I do offer this day in
praise and thanksgiving for past
benefits and in the hope of receiving
new blessings which you know I need
in life. Deign oh dearest Mother to
shower upon us all the blessings
which we need most for body and
soul particularly (mention your
intentions) and the special grace to
die in God's love, through Christ our
Our Lady of Piat, Pray for us.