Marian processions: A pilgrim’s act of synodality

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay


THE mammoth crowd present during the recently concluded traslacion and fluvial processions were testimonies of the unwavering faith of the devotees of Our Lady of Nuestra Señora De Peñafrancia.


Each pilgrim, though showing their faith in different inimitable ways was drawn into one common goal – to enrich their faith made even more ardent after the 2-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Mary Our Ina has indeed accompanied us the past days of her fiesta. As our theme implied, ‘Mary accompanies us in our journey towards a synodal Church,’ Mary indeed walked with us as we once again expressed our love and devotion to the loving Mother of Christ, Bicolandia’s Patroness, Nuestra Señora De Peñafrancia,” Archbishop of Caceres Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD DD expressed in his message.


Archbishop Tirona also thanked the Bicol Bishops together with all the Bicol clergy who celebrated with the Archdiocese of Caceres for being in communion with Ina. He also extended his gratitude to the city government of Naga, the Joint Operation Center, all the devotees and Voyadores who took part in the month-long celebration.


“Let Ina’s light continue to guide us as we journey together as People of God,” Tirona added.


Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims took advantage of the relaxed COVID restrictions and earnestly joined the various religious activities held in Naga City, particularly the Traslacion and fluvial processions, being the highlights of the feast of the Bicolandia’s patroness.


His Eminence, Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr., DD highlighted his point that the traslacion is not a ritual but a holy mission of every pilgrim as part of their missionary journey.


“Ang pagsasagawa ng Traslacion ay hindi lamang ritwal ng prosesyion, kundi isang napakabanal na misyon. Ang ating paunang pagsasagawa ng Traslacion at Fluvial Procession ay isang marikit na tanda ng ating pagsisinodo. Tinitipon tayo ng Mahal na Birhen ng Peñafrancia at Mahal na Poon ng Divino Rostro upang ilipat ang kanilang Mahal na Imahe sa magkabilang dambana. At sa pagsasagawa nito, literal tayong nagsisinodo,” Cardinal Advincula declared in his Homily during the Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Friday, Sept, 17 at the Basilica Minore.


“It was a successful event with thousands of pilgrims and devotees eager to join the annual Traslacion and fluvial procession. A fitting tribute to Ina who has protected us from the pandemic,” Caceres Commission on Communication (CCCom) Chair Fr. Louie Occiano said.


Fr. Juan Pablo Z. Carpio, vice rector of the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore summed up the activity as “mission accomplished.”


“Collaboration between the Church and government was excellent and we are grateful and appreciative of all the efforts contributed by the agencies in making sure the Traslacion and fluvial happen. This year, however, we made a campaign for a safe and solemn procession. At first glance, it would seem that we failed but upon counting the number of people climbing the “Andas” which numbered less than a hundred, we have actually gained ground. We did well,” Fr. Carpio stated.


The Basilica Minore Vice Rector also said that he messaged all the Cofradia, AFP and PNP Voyadores that “they did more than what we expected. Remember, we are changing a culture here and this will not happen overnight.”


An estimated crowd of 700,000 joined the Traslacion procession on Sept.9, Friday. The Joint Operations Center (JOC) projected that more or less 500,000 pilgrims, not to mention those waiting along the Naga River bank, joined the Divino Rostro and Ina’s image in the pagoda thru the Fluvial procession as they traverse the Naga River on the journey back to the Basilica Minore after the nine-day novena at the Metropolitan Cathedral.


Asked about the “unruly” crowd that swarmed the andas of both the Divino Rostro and Inang Peñafrancia:


“As there is no single solution, we are exerting efforts on all fronts: catechesis, formation, planning strategies in the conduct of the procession, leading the devotees to a safe and solemn expression of love and devotion to Ina and El Divino Rostro, and other things. It is truly our earnest prayer that the Traslacion be “Casualty or Injury free.


“We hope to achieve this by 2024 when we celebrate the Centenary of the Canonical Coronation of Ina. Tall Order, indeed, albeit, with all of us working under God’s grace and Ina’s patronage, we can transform our “usual” traslacion and fluvial into an orderly and peaceful, safe and solemn Procession.