Source: KBK | GMANews.TV
Filipinos from home and abroad gave a moving show of faith for the patroness of Peñafrancia as they marked the 300th anniversary of their devotion to her in Bicol over the weekend.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said he was overwhelmed to see the fluvial procession along Bicol River Saturday and hear devotees’ shouts of joy and victory.
“[The devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia] is something different and very unique,” Bastes said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news site Sunday.
Devotees came not only from various parts of the Philippines, but also from Australia, Singapore, Netherlands, Canada, France, Switzerland, Spain, Vatican City, United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Thailand, Kuwait, Papua New Guinea and parts of the United States, the CBCP said.
But despite the big number of devotees, Bicol regional police director Chief Superintendent Cecilio Calleja Jr. said the celebration was peaceful.
Calleja appreciated the preparation and cooperation of Church and government officials in keeping the celebration peaceful and orderly. He said they did not monitor any untoward incident despite the influx of hundreds of thousands of devotees from here and abroad.
Basilica Minore de Nuestra Senora de Peñafrancia rector Msgr. Romulo Vergara added their preparations paid off. “The traslacion was a success, from the procession from the Peñafrancia Shrine to the Metropolitan Cathedral to the security and the traffic,” he said.
He acknowledged the close coordination between the archdiocese and the city government and other agencies including the military and the medical professionals.
“The procession which usually last for four hours, has been significantly reduced to an hour and a half, through the spiritual formation of the participants,” Vergara said.
VIPs present, too
Among the high-profile personalities who attended the event were acting Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., and former Senator Francisco Tatad.
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams led Church officials from other dioceses and countries, presiding over a concelebrated Mass at the Basilica Minore del Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia.
Tatad, who hails from Bicol, said a foreign bishop who saw the multitudes shouting “Viva La Virgen!” was moved to tears.
“In spite of all our problems, the moral difficulties of the times, marked by secularism and relativism spreading around the world, the faith seems to be strong,” he said.
Spread the word
Devotees signed a Statement of Solidarity at the end of the International Pilgrims Congress there during the weekend. They said they have been inspired by their Catholic faith and devotion to Mary as they “seek to share the devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, our INA, to all peoples.”
Also, the pilgrims said they envision “a renewed devotion that exudes the virtues of Mary – simple, generous and faithful to God” which “shapes a heart of holiness that is formed and informed as lived in the family, in the Church, in society and in different parts of the
They committed themselves to organize an international council to create guidelines and oversee the promotion of Peñafrancia and the sharing of resources, links and ideas.
Likewise, they promised to create a formation program for a deeper awareness and understanding of devotion and to engage in community development as an expression of devotion.