The Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia: A Celebration of Faith and Devotion
The Philippines is a country with diverse cultures and traditions, and one of the most meaningful and solemn events that showcases its faith and history is the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia. The Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia is an annual festival that takes place every third Sunday of September in Naga City, Camarines Sur, in the Bicol region. The festival honors the miraculous image of Our Lady of Penafrancia, also known as Ina or Mother, who is the patroness of Bicol and the whole Philippines. The festival features various religious activities and processions that attract millions of devotees and pilgrims from all over the country and abroad.
The origin of the festival can be traced back to 1710, when a Spanish priest named Miguel Robles de Covarrubias brought a devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia from his hometown in Spain to Naga City, where he was assigned as a parish priest. He commissioned a local artist to carve a wooden image of the Virgin Mary based on a painting he had seen in Spain. He also built a small chapel along the banks of the Bicol River, where he enshrined the image. He named the image Our Lady of Penafrancia, after a shrine in Spain where the original painting was located.
The image soon became famous for its miraculous powers, as many people who prayed to it were healed from various illnesses and afflictions. The devotion spread throughout Bicol and beyond, as more and more people witnessed and experienced the wonders of Ina. The image was later transferred to a bigger church, which is now known as the Penafrancia Shrine. In 1981, a new church was built to house the image, which is now known as the Penafrancia Basilica Minore.
The festival today is a nine-day celebration that culminates on the third Sunday of September, which is also the feast day of Our Lady of Penafrancia. It features various events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of Naga City and Bicol, such as art exhibits, musical performances, cultural shows, food fairs, and other contests. The highlight of the festival is the Traslacion and Fluvial Procession, which are two processions that involve transferring the image of Ina from one church to another.
The Traslacion takes place on the first Friday of the festival, where the image is carried by devotees from the Penafrancia Shrine to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. The procession passes through several streets in Naga City, where thousands of people line up to catch a glimpse of Ina or touch her carriage. The procession also includes other images of saints, such as Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Anthony de Padua.
The Fluvial Procession takes place on the last Saturday of the festival, where the image is carried by devotees from the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral back to the Penafrancia Shrine. The procession passes through the Bicol River, where hundreds of boats accompany Ina’s barge. The procession also includes an image of Jesus Christ with a bloody face, known as Divino Rostro or Divine Face.
The festival is not only a feast for the eyes, but also for the heart and soul. Visitors can experience the faith and devotion of Bicolanos and Filipinos to Ina, who is believed to be their loving mother and protector. They can also witness the miracles and blessings that Ina bestows upon her children who pray to her with sincerity and trust.
The Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia is not only a celebration of faith and devotion, but also a celebration of culture and history. It is a way of preserving and promoting the traditions and values of Naga City and Bicol. It is also a way of showcasing the beauty and diversity of the Philippines.