Thursday, September 8, 2016

Naga City's Fiesta for Our Lady of Peñafrancia

Naga is a pilgrim city, and you can expect many Catholics to visit the Queen City of Bicol. Even those of different faiths come to visit the city and the image of La Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, especially in September, during the city's world renown Peñafrancia Festival.

Peñafrancia Festival
Image Source: Tom Falcon / Choose Philippines
Under the traditional Peñafrancia Festival schedule, every second Friday of September the image of Our Lady is taken from her original home, the Peñafrancia Shrine, to the Naga Cathedral. The image, together with the image of the Divino Nostro, is placed on a carosa or andas (a silver float on wheels) that is pushed (but once upon a time carried) by devotees called "voyadores". The procession itself is a spectacle, even for those who do not believe in the Catholic faith. Scores of people, mostly barefooted men, surround the image of the Virgin, and slowly move her towards the Cathedral. Then the rest of the procession, made up of men, women, and children of all ages, pray, talk, laugh all the way to the Cathedral as well - rain or shine.

For nine days, people flock to the Cathedral to hear mass, line up, touch the image, wipe their handkerchief on the image, pray, wish, and give thanks. Our Lady of Peñafrancia is known for her miracles. Many devotees claim that their prayers have been answered through the intercession of Mary, so many return to give thanks, and many return to request more prayers.

The novena ends on the 9th day, the 3rd Saturday of September with a fluvial procession, in which the images are brought to the Basilica atop a pagoda (a large raft that can hold 200 people) through the river.

fluvial procession
Image Source: ABS-CBN
Many find a spot along the riverbanks, and wait hours for the pagoda to pass by. And when she does come, slowly being pulled by smaller boats, you see white handkerchiefs wave furiously, candles lit and raised, and shouts of "Viva!" fill the air.

The image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia reaches the Basilica in the evening, and mass is celebrated. Throughout the city, families open up their homes to feed more family or friends who have become family, or even strangers who end up becoming friends.

The fiesta in Naga is definitely an experience of hope, faith, and love - for the Almighty, for Mary, and for the people who come.

-- a believer --

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

Regularly scheduled daily flights are offered by Cebu Pacific and PAL Express between Manila and Naga. If you are travelling from the Visayas, Cebu Pacific offers a flight between Cebu and Legazpi, which is a short van or bus ride away from Naga. The city is also served by several bus companies offering daily trips from Manila to Naga and all points in between. 

Would you like to visit Naga City to experience the Peñafrancia Festival? Find a place to stay in our listing of Naga City Hotels!

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