As the whole nation, particularly the seat of the devotion of the Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Penafrancia in Naga City, faces the threat of the Covid-19, the Novenario of the Divino Rostro commenced last September 2, 2020 at the Parish of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. With the theme: The Divino Rostro Brings Harmony and Unity in the Spirit of Dialogue and Respect,” this year’s celebration is being held while strictly following the health protocol to avoid the spread of the Covid-19. The novena masses are being covered through livestreaming to allow thousand of devotees participate from their homes. All the other parishes of the Archdiocese are also celebrating their local novenario.
On September 11, 2020 at 7:00am, the solemn feast of the Divino Rostro, Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD will preside over the Pontifical Mass at the Penafrancia Parish Church.
Origin of the Divino Rostro
In the town of Osa de la Vega, Spain there lived once Gregorio de la Torre and Isabel Corral, a very religious couple who inherited from Father Juan Montilla, a picture of Jesus Face (Divino Rostro).
To the amazement of many who bear witness of its veracity, the miraculous image of Our Lord began to sweat blood. Fast as a prairie fire, the news reached every corner of the town and in no time throng after throng of people fought hard to have a glance of the holy picture. The house became too small for a huge crowd, so the couple decided to request for its transfer to the church. There it easily stole the show, so to say becoming in a becoming in a short lapse of time the object of a very special devotion of the inhabitants.
In the year 1834, 1855 and 1865 the “cholera morbo” broke in Spain. Many of its towns suffered from the rueful effects of the dreadful malady. Thru a special flux of Divine Providence, however, attributed only to a special devotion of the people to the Divino Rostro, Osa de la Vega did not witness of demise of even one of its inhabitants. From them, the already popular devotion to the Divino Rostro soared to its heights and Osa de la Vega’s confidence in its power knew no bounds.
OUR OWN, THE DIVINO ROSTRO IN THE BICOL REGION
When Father Pedro de la Torre, recently named Provisor and Vicar General of the Diocese of Nueva Caceres came to Naga, he brought with him to this place a picture of the Divino Rostro, a carbon copy of the one found in Osa de la Vega. The picture was exposed to the piety of the inhabitants of the town and after a lapse of years, it became very popular.
In the year 1882 a “colera morbo” broke out in Manila. A cure for the disease was not yet discovered so many died of the disease rapidly the dreadful disease reached Naga and according to Fr. Jose Ma. Lesa, who was then the Chaplain of the Shrine of the Virgin of Peñafrancia many people died during the epidemic. The bishop, Msgr. Casimiro Hererra had the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia brought to the Cathedral imploring her natural and maternal protection and help for the townspeople from the dreadful disease.
As if inspired by the impending danger, Fr. Pedro de la Torre remembered a similar catastrophe in Osa de la Vega and the miraculous intervention of the Divino Rostro. Fr. De la Torre made this miracle known to the people in Naga. A carbon copy of the Divino Rostro was brought to the Cathedral for special prayers and devotion, imploring for the same prayers and mercy that was long ago shown. For the first time the two images were together. However the epidemic continued taking more lives. Undaunted Bishop Casimiro Herrera with his priests then made a promise . . . should the dreadful disease spare Naga, the Divino Rostro will be pompously venerated with special festivities together with the Virgin of Peñafrancia. There were many people who died on that day, while on the second day only two died. On the third day the dreadful disease disappeared. The people saw the hand of God in this miraculous saving of the town and made good their promise. When the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia was to be taken to the Cathedral from the shrine on September of that year (1883), the Divino Rostro was also carried along in the procession with the priests themselves carrying it on their shoulders.
The people from all parts of the Bicol Region who came to attend the fiesta heard of the miracles of the Divino Rostro when they went back, they talked about it to their own folks. Thus unknowingly the devotion to the Divino Rostro became regional.
To make it easier for the devotees to give vent it their special devotion to the Divino Rostro, Fr. Pedro de la Torre decided to donate it to the Sanctuario of Peñafrancia.
The Chaplain of the shrine Fr. Jose Ma. Lesa with the approval of Bishop Herrera accepted the replica of the Divino Rostro and placed it on the altar constructed at the gospel side, the very place where it was until recently.
When the wings of the Peñafrancia Church was finished it was transferred to the left wing.
When the wooden frame of the miraculous image became so old and deteriorated Doña Fabiana Arejola Vda. De Reyes, the president of the Association of Peñafrancia donated a silver frame ordered from the famous Zamora Bros. She also donated the “andas” on which it is placed during the procession.
The Philippines Bicol Divino Rostro measures 61 cm. long and 47 cm wide. On the top of the silver frame is an art work depecting the instruments of the passion and sufferings of Our Lord, the crown of thorns, the nails, the lances and the cross. The Divine Face of Jesus is imprinted on the white veil of St. Veronica, the wounded bleeding, sorrowful face of Jesus looks at anyone who looks over Him with soul searching eyes. What could He be telling you and me?
Under the initiative of Rev. Fr. Concordio Sarte, Auxillary Bishop of Caceres, then Rector of the Parish of Peñafrancia Shrine started a perpetual novena in honor of the Divino Rostro, this novena takes place before or after the first mass of Friday at the shrine.
Divino Rostro during the Covid-19 Pandemic
If Divino Rostro spared the Bicol region from the cholera outbreak in 1882, we are praying that Divino Rostro will rescue us from the Virus that has inflicted almost 240,000 in the country and almost 1500 cases in Bicol. We pray earnestly that Our Lord, in His Divine Face, will heal our covid patients and also protect and strengthen our frontliners.
Viva El Divino Rostro!