THE date was December 26, 1995, and it was his visit to Saipan. Manny Duenas, born on Guam but whose family moved to the mainland in the early 1970s, was touring the island with a friend following a business meeting.
Duenas told the Variety that his friend suggested visiting the Santa Lourdes Shrine on Capitol Hill to which he immediately agreed.
“We arrived at the grotto about 1:30 in the afternoon, and I felt the very peaceful and calming nature there,” Duenas said.
He said that he immediately felt the presence of the Virgin Mary so he began his prayers with her at the altar.
As he was praying, he said a busload of tourists arrived at the grotto and everybody wanted to have souvenir photos at the altar. Duenas said he waited until the tourists left the area, before he asked his friend to have his picture taken at the altar, too.
“We took several pictures at the grotto before our journey home. It wasn’t until I had those pictures developed, that I realized how “special and sacred” that grotto is,” Duenas said.
He said that each picture came out with fine color and detail, but when he came across his picture at the altar, he felt truly blessed and deeply amazed.
“The Virgin Mary was there with me, it wasn’t just a feeling,” Duenas said.
“I believed the Santa Lourdes Grotto and my spiritual experience is a sign that the Virgin Mary is still calling us to gather and pray for peace and to remember our Faith in God and the Holy Trinity,” Duenas said.
One of Duenas’ spiritual revelations was aired on Fox40 news back in March 9, 2008. In the interview, Duenas told Sacramento reporter Jamie Soriano that he found the image of the holy virgin in a palm branch in his backyard in Citrus Heights, California.
Duenas said that he was doing some yardwork when he saw what he believed was the image of the holy virgin with the baby Jesus cradled in her arms.
“I was just doing my work but for some reason, when I got to the second branch, I had the goose bumps when I saw the image, so I shared what I saw with my family,” Duenas said.
The interview, viewed by almost 10,000 people and which can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bXA3hmYXnM got a fair share of comments and reactions from people who believe and those who don’t believe in him.
Duenas said he is planning to come back to Santa Lourdes shrine on December 26 and offer a mass or rosary to commemorate the 15th year anniversary when he saw the apparition there.
Duenas was born in Dededo Village on Guam with 12 siblings. He had been to Guam only on four occasions since his family moved to California in 1972 and his last visit on Guam was in 2004. He now resides in northern California East of Sacramento. Duenas is married with seven children and three grandchildren.