The origin of the Devotion to the Divino Rostro in Nueva Caceres

It was during the tenure of Bishop Casimiro Herrero, OSA (1880-1886), that the Bikol regional devotion to the Divino Rostro was born. In 1882, Manila was stricken with cholera epidemic. It had the earmarks of extending its ravages to Bikolandia. Already several cases were registered in Nueva Caceres, and this made the people apprehensive. Father Pedro de la Torre, the vicar general, who hailed from Osa de la Vega in Spain, remembered that his native town had been spared from a similar epidemic during the years 1834, 1854, and 1855 through the townfolks’ devotion to the Divino Rostro. Bishop Herrero readily approved his vicar’s suggestion that the holy picture which he had of his town’s venerated image be enshrined at the cathedral for the duration of the epidemic. The Bishop further ordered that the intercession of Our Lady of Pena de Francia be likewise prayed for; thus her statue was carried in procession from her chapel to the cathedral on August 26 of that year. It goes without saying that prayers before the two images were continually held by the faithful and the diocesan clergy. When the threat of the dread (sic) disease was finally dispelled, both images were, for the first time, carried together in procession the following September from the cathedral to the Pena Francia chapel. In thanksgiving, Father Torre’s holy picture was borne on a platform on the shoulders of priests who, speaking for the whole diocesan clergy, signed a vow to have the holy picture carried henceforth together with the statue of the Blessed Virgin of Pena de Francia on all occasions. The documents to this effect were sent as a pledge to Osa de la Vega where the original image of the Divino Rostro is venerated. (From Domingo Abella’s “Bikol Annals”, pp. 185-186.)