Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fluvial Procession - Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia

The devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia is old, very old, having its roots as early as 711 AD; in 1434, the French friar Simon Roland (Simon Vela to the Spaniards)reportedly found an image of the Blessed Virgin in a rocky cave in Salamanca. Simon Roland started to build a shrine in honor of Our Lady's miraculous image, but died before it was completed in 1438. As was usual then, rivalry between religious orders was high, and to settle property issues, as well as to bring peace, King John II awarded custody of the shrine to the Spanish Dominicans.

The Spaniards brought the devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia to the Philippines when they colonized the islands. Our Lady is venerated under this title in Manila and in Naga, in the Bicol region, where she is considered the spiritual mother of all its people. To her they lovingly gave the title of 'Ina', which means 'Mother' in Tagalog and (presumably) Bicolano. On the third Saturday of November, the image of Our Lady is borne in a fluvial procession from the Cathedral back to her shrine. A novena is recited in her honor, and for nine whole days, thousands upon thousands pay her homage in the cathedral. The day of the procession gathers hundreds of thousands, if not a million, devotees on the shores of Naga, following the river route back to the shrine. After being carried on a silver palanquin, she is enthroned atop a pagoda of sorts in the boat, which is rowed in perfect unison by her devotees (mostly male, as can be gleaned from the pic). The whole river is lined up on both sides by devotees, waving at their beloved 'Ina' and shouting 'Viva la Virgen!' in chorus in a seemingly infinite number of times.

I love how the priests band together to prevent the crush of people from rushing into the river. Also of note are the soldiers in the back, in dark green. In events like this, where participants number in the thousands, it is always a good precaution to have backup.


Francis said...

Hello, I am a Filipino Catholic blogger, too.
Please add my blog to your list. Thanks you.

Archistrategos said...

Hi Francis, thanks for visiting, I added your blog to my list :)