UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

Philippines

Centuries-old Marian procession falls victim to Covid-19

Philippine bishop begs for understanding from millions of devotees for canceling 300-year-old religious festival

Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Centuries-old Marian procession falls victim to Covid-19

Millions of people join the annual procession to honor Our Lady of Penafrancia in Naga City. (Photo: Rhaydz Barcia)

Share this article :
Church and local officials in Naga City in the Philippines have canceled a three-century-old Marian devotion to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia due to coronavirus fears.

Caceres Archdiocese in the southern part of the main Philippine island of Luzon has announced that September's fluvial procession or any ceremony involving mass public gatherings are suspended due to quarantine and self-distancing protocols.

“The Archdiocese of Caceres is mindful of the present state of the national public health emergency, so we decided to cancel this year’s holding of all processions,” said Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona and Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion in a joint statement.

Archbishop Tirona and Mayor Legacion also said the cancellation covers all masses, pilgrimages, including the traditional kissing of the image’s mantle for healing and consolation.

Naga City is known for the Our Lady of Peñafrancia, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary named after Peña de Francia, a mountain in Spain’s Salamanca province.

The wooden statue of the Virgin revered by devotees in Naga City and across the Philippines originated from the Spanish province.

The image, a replica of the original, arrived in the Philippines in 1712, brought by a Spanish official for his sickly seminarian son, Miguel Robles, who was studying at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Robles prayed to be healed by clasping and kissing the mantle of the Virgin. His family constructed chapels and replicated the image in various churches in the region, thus spreading devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia.

Each September, millions of devotees attend the yearly traslacion (fluvial procession) from Naga City Cathedral to the Basilica to commemorate the Virgin’s journey from Spain to the Philippines.

The procession is joined by millions of devotees wanting to touch the image.

However, this year the pandemic has prompted the archdiocese to encourage all devotees and churchgoers to mark the celebration online.

“This is a special moment because of Covid-19. I urge all the faithful and lovers of Ina [Mother Mary] to be united with us through home-based, technology-based religious practices,” said Archbishop Tirona in an interview. 

Archbishop Tirona said that there is no need for Catholics to travel to Naga City because all celebrations would be livestreamed by the bishops’ conference.

City officials confirmed strict protocols were in force and non-residents were barred from entering the city without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.

“Please bear with us. We can still show our love and devotion to the Virgin by adopting measures that are for the common good, public health and community welfare,” Archbishop Tirona added.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution