Our Lady of Penafrancia - VIVA LA VIRGEN

Panalangin sa Kapistahan ng Penafrancia

"Ititig mo sa akin ang iyong mahabaging mga mata, O Birhen ng Peñafrancia, at kaawaan mong dumudulog saiyo na puno ng pagsisisi. Alagaan mo ang aking pamilya, ang aking mga pinsan at mga tumutulong sa akin. Tulungan mo ang mga nananampalataya saiyo, ang mga yumao na at mga buhay, lalong lalo na ang mga karapat dapat mong tulungan. Sa oras ng aking mga pagaalin-langan, pagkukulang at paghihirap lalong lalo na sa aking pagkamatay, tulungan mo ako, sabihin mo na ako ay iyong taga-sunod, na dala ng malaking pagtitiwala sa iyong pagkalinga nakaluhod sa iyong paanan sa paghingi ng iyong pagtulong. Ina naming Birhen ng Peñafrancia, ipanalangin, tulungan at iligtas mo ako, Amen."

All roads lead to Naga City in Camarines Sur every third Saturday of September. Each year, Bicolano faithful from all walks of life as well as devotees from different provinces of the Philippine Islands trek to this famous city south of Luzon to celebrate the feast of their beloved “ Ina “, Our Lady of Penafrancia, titular patron of the whole province of Bicol.
It is a weeklong festivity normally preceded by a nine-day novena held at the Cathedral of Naga City and which ends in revelry. It is the main highlight of the celebration where a parade along the city streets is held. This is called “traslacion” or transfer where the image of the Virgin is carried by barefooted voyadores…all male devotees… from the Cathedral to a waiting river float a kilometer away while shouting “VIVA LA VIRGEN” ( Long Live the Virgin ). It is then brought to the Basilica Minore after hours long fluvial.

Different myths say that Bicolanos can predict the next year's events whether it is going to be a good one or disastrous by the way the image is carried on shoulders by waves of voyadores. It is a magnificent view and experience where the Lady drifts as if on a sea of heads. Lose it out of sight and the crowd is silenced into trance and as the image reappears, a wild shout of “VIVA, VIVA, VIVA” followed by a thunderous clapping of the hands reverberates throughout the whole city. Smiles are then painted on the faces of the believers as her re-emergence means a good year is in the offing.

It is a common belief among inhabitants of this religious city that no other female is ever allowed on the float dedicated only for the Lady of Penafracia. That is why only male voyadores are permitted to carry the image. Bad luck dictates if any female ever step on the river float of the Lady. Whether this phenomenon is fact or myth, only the folks from Bicol can tell.

(Archdiocese of Caceres) Naga City Cathedral

History of the Devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia

Perhaps the most authoritative source about the origin of the devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia is through “El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia de la Ciudad de Nueva Caceres en las Islas Filipinas” collected works written by Bishop Francisco Gainza, O.P., prelate of Caceres (1862-1879). In fact, all other researches done concerning this devotion are traceable to his writings.

Nueva Caceres is the old name of what is now the City of Naga. It was in this city where the devotion to our Lady began. The works of Gainza as to the origin cannot be written without the help of Fray Juan Alvarez del Manzano, procurator of the Dominican province in Spain. Through him, Gainza acquired a copy of the work published by Fray Domingo Caballero which was printed in Salamanca in the year 1728. This writing relates particularly about the origin and beginning of the church in Francia, a settlement in Caceres.

In his works, Gainza narrated about a letter dated May 1, 1710 written by Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, Vicar General during the times. In his missive, the vicar wrote about an icon sculpted to the image of Mother Mary which was made of light material in a chapel built and dedicated to the Lady of Pena de Francia. He also mentioned about some of the favors granted by our Lady to the devotees of the time. Likewise stated was the fact that there was an ecclesiastical approval to the devotion to Our Lady of Pena de Francia as Saturday mass and prayers of the Holy Rosary was already practiced when the letter was written.

It was through these documents of Gainza therefore that established 1710 as the official date of origin. In 2010, the city of Naga will celebrate the 300 year of devotion to our Lady of Penafrancia.

Source: Articles by Fr. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon through http://www.penafrancia.net – official site of Our Lady of Penafrancia

The Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia, Basilica Minore, Balatas Road, Naga City Philippines 4400 Tel: (6354)473-3644 Fax: (6354)473-6914