Archdiocese to hold Prayer Caravans: All systems go for Peñafrancia Fiesta
By Julma M. Narvadez
The Archdiocese of Caceres has announced the conduct of Traslacion and Fluvial Processions this September, a welcome news for Marian devotees. Due to the continuing pandemic, prayer caravans will be held. The miraculous images of the Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Peñafrancia will be mounted on separate trucks during the processions. Vehicles may follow but there will be no foot procession. This aims to prevent the long hours of crowding, a usual sight during pre-pandemic processions.
Fr. Juan Pablo Z. Carpio, vice rector of the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore, revealed that the devotees are asked to view the processions along the route. “They may bring rosaries, white handkerchief and flowers. We will bless them along the way,” he said.
The Traslacion is set on September 9 while the Fluvial Procession is on September 17. The solemnity of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is on September 18.
On September 9, the caravan will leave Plaza de Covarrubias located near the old Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, after the 3:00 o’clock Mass with Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, DD, Bishop of Daet as celebrant. Participating vehicles will assemble along Magsaysay Avenue and San Felipe. During the caravan, only the members of Cofradia de San Jose will be on motorbikes to serve as cordon.
Upon reaching Plaza Quince Martires in front of Crown Hotel, the caravan will turn left to proceed to Caceres Street formerly known as Padian Street, instead of turning right to Elias Angeles Street. Fr. Carpio said this decision was made to accommodate the vehicles joining the prayer caravan. This will also allow more devotees to witness the caravan along General Luna and P. Burgos Streets before it proceeds to the Metropolitan Cathedral through Elias Angeles Street.
The option of proceeding to Barlin Street from Gen. Luna St was also explored, he added. The street is named after Bp. Jorge Barlin, the first Filipino bishop. Bp. Barlin was a native of Baao, Camarines Sur. The entrance of the images through Porta Mariae from Barlin Street would have been poignant but the road is not suitable for the caravan.
The Peñafrancia Committee is yet to decide on the participation of school, civic and religious organizations. In 2019 and earlier, students and representatives of organizations begin the foot procession at 12:00 noon. This year, in case they will be asked to join, they will have to board vehicles as well.
On September 17, a caravan will bring the images from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the danlugan.
The Fluvial Procession will highlight healthcare workers as each of the 92 parishes of the archdiocese will be represented by one medical frontliner. The six suffragan dioceses of Legazpi, Sorsogon, Masbate, Daet, Virac and Libmanan will have three representatives each. Carpio said the committee decided to reduce the number of devotees aboard the pagoda, in keeping with health protocols. As in the past, row boats will pull the pagoda. These boats will have to register with the Holy Cross Parish at Tabuco, Naga City.
Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula, Jr will preside over the Mass at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore after the Fluvial procession.
On June 8, Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD issued Circular 12-2022 on the Peñafrancia Celebration. He invited the faithful to reflect on the theme “Mary accompanies us in our journey towards a synodal Church.”
Caceres has been the seat of the devotion for the past 312 years. The local Church has vigorously ensured that the Peñafrancia Fiesta remains a solemn and prayerful celebration, to the disappointment of groups that reduce the festivities as a mere commercial enterprise.