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Lost statue of Blessed Virgin Mary returns to Ozamiz after 42 years

Marian devotees welcome the return of lost Berhen sa Cotta. -Photos by Mariz Revales 

OZAMIZ City —Thousands of catholic devotees from the province of Misamis Occidental and neighboring areas on Friday —Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion —witnessed the arrival of the image of their patroness "Berhen sa Cotta" that was lost for over four decades.

Nuestra  Señora dela Immaculada Concepcion y del Triunfo dela Cruz de Mipangi, popularly known as the "Berhen sa Cotta," was stolen 42 years ago and the city's devotees, for over a generation, venerated only a portrait of the Blessed Virgin.

Collector JV Esposo returns lost statue to Ozamiz. 

Through social media and the help of GMA News' "Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho (KMJS),"  the statue of the "Berhen sa Cotta" found its way back to Ozamiz City and was enthroned again on her hallowed altar on Her feast day.

Thousands of devotees trooped to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the city to witness the return of the long-missed religious image. 

Quezon City-based religious icon collector Jose Vicente Esposo said that he had found the Virgin's statue on display, he bought and restored it. 

After years of searching, a Marian devotee from Ozamiz who came to Manila for a visit, saw the all-too-familiar statue at a collection display, took a picture of it and posted the photo on Facebook.

After KMJS featured the statue's story, the religious icon's journey back home began. And on December 8, 2017, the statue returned to the cathedral after 42 years of being away from its hallowed sanctuary.

JV Vicente, was just too willing to return the statue, even thanking God for making him a part of the religious icon's journey.

Bishop Martin Jumo-ad and a KMJS  representative, present a plaque of appreciation to JV Esposo.

The Berhen sa Cotta was brought by the Spaniards from Europe to be the patroness of Ozamiz City.

JV Esposo personally delivered the statue back to the city, where the Blessed Virgin's image has served as inspiration for devotees for the last 260 years.

Msgr. Jumo-ad led a thanksgiving Mass for the statue's return to the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. This was followed by the signing of a memorandum between the diocese and JV Esposo, sealing the return of the statue.

The memorandum signing was witnessed by Congressman Jorge Almonte, Governor Herminia Ramiro, Vice Governor Virginia Almonte and Mayor Irene Luansing, who also presented to Esposo a city resolution making him an adopted son of Ozamiz City. —Mariz Revales/LBG, GMA News