Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Festival in Manila

Here follows a short account of the festivities that took place for the canonization of St. Francis Borgia in 17th century Manila. This is the first of two parts and is recounted from Fr. Rene Javellana, Sj's, book on Philippine church art and architecture, La Case de Dios.

At nine in the morning, to the accompaniment of church bells, four triumphant floats were conducted to the Manila Cathedral, the beginning of the processional route. The carros or processional floats were shaped like galleons as they had a poop deck and a prow cantilevered beyond the wheels. This construction of wood was decorated in polychrome and gold and had a fresh coat of lacquer to give it luster. Four enormous wheels lifted the body of the float above the ground and near the poop deck was raised a shelter called a tabernaculo, consisting of four columns supporting a cover.
The images of the saints were placed inside this tabernaculo to keep them secure and wobble free during the procession. The first carro bore St. Ignatius, the second Stanislaus, the third St. Ferdinand, King of Spain (1217 - 1252), and the last, Francis Borgia. The images of the Jesuits were all dressed in gold embroidered material against a deep maroon background. Ignatius wore a black biretta and a halo decorated with diamonds and pearls. Over the chest was a golden heart studded with diamonds. In his left hand was a book of beaten silver and in his right a standard of orange damask on which was the Jesuit coat of arms bearing the name of Jesus.
Stanislaus was similarly arrayed as Ignatius, except that he had a face and hands of ivory. Over his head was a silver halo embellished with diamonds and other precious stones. Stanislaus cradled an ivory Santo Nino, adorned with diamonds.
Francis Borgia was dressed like Ignatius and Stanislaus and had a gold-plated halo studded with diamonds. He held an ivory skull wearing a crown.
King Ferdinand was robed in kingly fashion, silver breeches and tunic lined with gold and blue and a red imperial cape decorated at the edges with silver and gold. The robes of the statue were embroidered with flowers of varied colors. The statue was crowned in silver with diamonds. At its feet were a silver globe and a silver pilgrim's staff in filigree. A sword with a filigree hilt hung from his side, and chains of gold crisscrossed his body. The chians alone were valued at 4000 ducats (estimated at about $418,908.00 in today's currency).
At the prow of the floats was a flat space covered with a carpet; here, a band of children dressed as angels sang, played musical instruments, and held lights. Complimenting the band was an entourage of musicians.
The procession was held later in the day. The church bells pealed from noon until two, at which time the Jesuits walked to the cathedral. Here the people of Manila, beginning with the archbishop Fray Juan Lopez, OP, and the governor general, Don Manuel Leon y Sarabia, along with the city officials and city folk gathered for Vespers. Don Diego de Cartagena y Pantoja, the cathedral's dean, led the prayers that began with music.