A literary travelogue to Marian pilgrim sites in new anthology

By Lorenzo Paran III

Prolific writer and anthologist Cecilia Manguerra Brainard has recently released another book, and this time the subject is especially close to her heart.

“Magnificat: Mama Mary’s Pilgrim Sites,” edited by Brainard, gathers 24 essays by Filipino writers on the subject of Marian devotion sites. One of the writers is San Francisco State University Professor Penelope V. Flores, whose vivid recollection of her visit to the Maryam Monastery in Lake Tana, Tigray in Ethiopia has added diversity to the anthology.

“I’m a devotee to Our Lady and had been wanting to do a book as my gift to her,” Brainard said in 2011 while she was seeking essays for the collection.

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

“Magnificat” pays homage to Marian devotion sites around the world. Sites in the Philippines that are featured in the book include the Our Lady of Antipolo in Rizal and Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan. Also featured are the Our Lady of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Black Madonna in Poland, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, and perhaps the most well known, Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

The essays also include those by Philippine Daily Inquirer opinion columnist Ma. Ceres P. Doyo; Jaime C. Laya, former Philippine Minister of Education, Culture and Sports; and Filipino American novelist Brian Ascalon Roley.

Brainard, who as writer and editor has now published 19 books, has previously touched on the subject of religion and her Christian faith.

Penelope V. Flores

“Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters,” which Brainard co-edited with Marily Y. Orosa and published in 2009, features Filipino writers describing life-changing experiences concerning their faith and spirituality.

“Out of Cebu,” Brainard’s collection of personal essays, published in 2012, also briefly touches on the figure of Mary.

Brainard, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., launched “Magnificat” last September 8th during the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture in San Pedro, Calif.
The significance of the date will not be lost to Marian devotees. September 8 is widely celebrated in the Catholic world as Mary’s birthday.

Philippine Expressions Bookshop hosted a book signing during the two-day festival that featured Brainard, children’s book author Leslie Ryan; muralist Eliseo Art Silva, author of “Filipinos of Greater Philadelphia”; Lucy Adao McGinley, whose essay is featured in “Magnificat”; Albert Mortiz, author of “Beyond San Andreas” and “Oblation: A Revelation of Cultural Awareness and Understanding and Adventures in European Travel”; and this writer.

Philippine Expressions Bookshop owner Linda Nietes also contributed to “Magnificat.”
For more information on “Magnificat,” go to www.ceciliabrainard.com.

Lorenzo Paran III writes about Filipino-American life on the cultural blog site Pinoy in America where this article originally appeared.

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