Source: Sonny Sales | Vox Bikol
NAGA CITY (11 Sept) – After being kept from the public for decades, the 300 year-old original image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia carved by a Chinese artisan during the Spanish colonial years in Naga in 1709, was again shown to devotees during the Traslacion Mass last September 10.
The icon was venerated during the mass after the “Traslacion” procession on Friday which marked the start the week-long religious rites of the 300th year “Tercentenary celebration” of the Patroness of Bikolandia.
Tercentenary Celebration Executive Secretary, Fr. Andrew G. Recepcion, earlier told Vox Bikol that for the Tercentenary thanksgiving mass, the 300-year old image will be carried by six priests and six laymen during the rite at the Porta Mariae and at the Quadricentennial Arch.
Since the image was stolen in 1976 and was subsequently recovered some months later, replicas of the venerated icon were used in the succeeding fiestas.
Reportedly, only the replicas are now being used in the yearly festivities of the Peñafrancia, while the original icon is kept hidden in a chapel inside the Peñafrancia Basilica.
Considered a priceless religious icon made in 1709, the old Virgen de Peñafrancia image in Naga is considered the oldest Marian image after the original Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia in Salamanca, Spain was destroyed in a fire.
Fr. Recepcion also said that the start of the Peñafrancia celebrations will be participated by some 50 bishops from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Australia, the Caribbean, and from the dioceses of the Bikol region.
Meanwhile over 100,000 people was expected to crowd Naga’s city streets for Friday’s “Traslacion” Procession which started around 2:00 PM from Plaza de Covarrubias of the old Peñafrancia Shrine, and proceeded to the Naga Cathedral via Peñafrancia Ave.
Around 20,000 devotees converged at the Cathedral grounds, where Manila Archbishop, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, and Bicol Bishops led the celebration of the thanksgiving mass.
Friday’s “Traslacion procession” transferred the Peñafrancia image from the old shrine to the Naga Cathedral where it will be visited by an estimated one million devotees.
On September 18, the Fluvial Procession in which the image returns to the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore will be highlighted by the Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Vatican‘s representative, the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams.