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Caceres kicks off Month of Devotions with prayers and procession of Divino Rostro

By Eric Bobis

The clergy of the Archdiocese of Caceres begins the solemn monthly-long celebration of devotion in the Bicol Region with mass and procession bringing the image of the Divino Rostro from the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Peñafrancia to the Old Shrine at Our Lady of Peñafrancia Parish.

Wearing face masks to follow health protocols due the Covid19 pandemic, this marks the beginning of the novenary masses in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus as a remembrance of the day when Bicolanos, together with the clergy, pledged to join the image of the Divino Rostro in procession together with the image of Ina, Our Lady of Peñafrancia in 1882 with the prayer to save the people in the region from the plague of Cholera Morbo.

The wondrous sparing of the people from the plague through the devotion has marked a historic memory to the people. As a pledge or “panuga” made in the first procession, the clergy shall carry the andas of Divino Rostro as an act of sacrifice for the people. So, it’s practically the priests carrying the image.

Priests of the Archdiocese of Caceres, wearing face masks due the pandemic, carry the “andas” of the image of the Divino Rostro on their shoulders. It marks the beginning of the novenary masses in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus and to fulfill their “panuga” made in 1882: to bring the image of the Divino Rostro during the procession with the image of Ina, Nstra Sñra de Peñafrancia after Bicol region was saved from the plague of cholera morbo. As an act of sacrifice for the people, the clergy carry the “andas” with prayers that the ongoing pandemic will soon end. MSB photo credit: Russel Rivera of RCM

After two years of pandemic when grand processions and celebration in large group were cancelled and thereafter limited, the devotees who came, together with the priests walked solemnly from Basilica to the Pañafrancia parish church.

Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD, together with the Caceres clergy, spent a day of prayer at the Peñafrancia Basilica to deepen their reflections on the theme for this year’s celebration, “Mary accompanies us in our journey towards a synodal Church.”

Fr. Arnold M. Sanico, SDB, guided the reflection process with his talk emphasizing the importance of presence as key in understanding synodality. He emphasized the role of accompaniment of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the church through the apostles from the Wedding of Cana to the Pentecost. Fr. Sanico challenged the priests to imitate the example of Mary by maintaining presence with the parishioners as a co-journeyer in the ministry.

In his homily at during the Eucharistic Celebration after the clergy recollection, Archbishop Tirona gave the meaning of a synodal priest. He is one who, like Mary, knows how to respond to the call of the people and the poor, more than the demand of externalities in the life of a priest.

The procession continued despite rain showers. Lighted lanterns printed with the Basilica logo were carried by altar boys who themselves were wearing white raincoats over their uniforms. Some carried umbrellas. The rest went on walking amid the rainy weather. There was a band playing the hymn to the Divino Rostro until it reached the patio of the parish.

“O Divino Rostro banal na lalawgon ni Jesus Ino-omaw asin namomotan nin bilog na kabikolan

O Divino Rostro banal na lalawgon ni Jesus”

The novena to the Divino Rostro followed at the Parish of Our Lady of Peñafrancia with Fr. Felipe Culvera III, parish priest, leading the clergy and the laity in prayers.

The mass at the Basilica and the procession was live streamed in the social media accounts of the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Fr. Alex Guimpol, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary in Bombon, mentioned that the experience of joining the prayers and the procession after the pandemic brings him the joy and excitement. He added that the experience brings morale to the people, to continue the devotion with hope amid pandemic.

On Aug 31, the first day of novena to Divino Rostro begins, and on the tenth day when the celebration ends on September 9, the traditional translacion procession will be made marking the start of the Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

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