Peñafrancia Festival, Queen of Bicolandia Patroness of Bicol
Our Lady of Peñafrancia is a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated in Naga City, Bicol, Philippines. The image comes from the original image enshrined in Salamanca, Spain. It is currently housed at the Peñafrancia Basilica where every September is held for the novena festivities in honor of the image as the principal Patroness and Queen of Bicol. Pope Pius XI granted the image a Canonical coronation on September 20, 1924 via his Apostolic delegate, Monsignor Guillermo Piani. On December 3, 2015, a mosaic image of the Virgin Mary under this title was officially enshrined at the Vatican Gardens for the 14th slot at the pontifical mandate of Pope Francis. The ceremony was attended by then President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III who unveiled the image with honors.
Stories of miracles surrounding the image began circulating immediately, beginning with the account of a resurrected dog. The animal was killed for its blood, which was to be used in painting the newly carved image of Our Lady, and the carcass was dumped into the Bikol river. The dog suddenly came back to life and began swimming; hundreds allegedly witnessed the event. News of many other miracles spread quickly, as did public devotion to the image. A letter sent by Miguel to the Dominicans in Salamanca, Spain in 1712 reported numerous miracles through the intercession of Our Lady. The number of devotees eventually increased beyond the Diocese of Nueva Cáceres, which comprised the Bicolandia and Marinduque, and in modern times the devotion has reached other parts of the world along with the Filipino diaspora. The image is known to devotees by the title Ina, a local term for “Mother”. The September festivities of the Lady and Mother of Bicol form an opening salvo to the long celebrations of Christmas in the Philippines, which begin in the very month the celebrations are held in Bicol and in countless other parts of the country.
The second Friday of September marks the feast day of the Divino Rostro, following nine days of the novena at the shrine. Bishops and delegates from other dioceses attend a High Mass concelebrated by archbishops outside the shrine to commemorate the feast of the Divino Rostro. The image of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia is transferred at dawn to her old home for the Traslación in the afternoon. After the procession, a community and thanksgiving Mass is celebrated to honour the image’s arrival. After the Mass, a Grand Pontifical Mass is celebrated by visiting archbishops from around the Philippines to commemorate the feast day of the Divino Rostro. The Traslación begins after the noon mass from the procession of the students, delegates from other regions, teachers, government officials, and other professions while the images are being prepared for the procession. A Mass is celebrated before the Traslación while the people gather for the main procession. After Mass, the Divino Rostro icon leaves the shrine and heads to the Cathedral at a very slow pace. After a recital or two of the Rosary (depending on the Divino Rostro’s speed), the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia follows and moves at a very slow pace, quite slower than the Divino Rostro’s. After two or three hours, the Divino Rostro icon arrives at Naga Cathedral, and after an hour, the image of Our Lady enters. A Solemn Pontifical Mass is celebrated after the procession, outside the Cathedral. After the Mass, the nine-day novenary for Our Lady begins inside the Naga Cathedral.
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