Church, Naga City cancel Peñafrancia Festival | Inquirer News

Church, Naga City cancel Peñafrancia Festival

VIVA LA VIRGEN! Thousands of devotees form a tight ring around the image of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia, lovingly called “Ina” (mother) by devotees, during the “traslacion” held on the streets of Naga City in Camarines Sur, on Sept. 13, 2019. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the staging of the Peñafrancia Festival in September has been canceled. —MARC ALVIC

NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur, Philippines — There wouldn’t be any grand celebration in September of the more than three-centuries-old devotion to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia after the Archdiocese of Caceres opted to cancel all its crowd-drawing activities to prevent a possible surge of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

“Mindful of the present state of national public health emergency, we decided to cancel this year’s holding of processions: “Traslacion,” fluvial and any procession whatsoever,” Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona and Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion said in a joint statement on Saturday.

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The Peñafrancia Festival, the biggest religious event in the Bicol region, has drawn millions of tourists, pilgrims and devotees to its different festivities, such as the traslacion and fluvial procession, which involves the transfer of the image of the Bicol patroness, referred to as “Ina” (mother) by devotees, from its official home at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and vice versa.

Stay home“Kissing and touching of Ina’s miraculous images enshrined at the Peñafrancia Basilica and other churches, including the imposition of her ‘manto’ (mantle) for healing and consolation” will be suspended, Tirona and Legacion said.

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The archbishop urged devotees outside of Camarines Sur province not to travel to Naga, saying they could commemorate the 310 years of devotion to Ina in their homes. Novena prayers are available on the archdiocese’s website and social media pages, while Masses will be livestreamed.

The local government has canceled all civic and commercial activities that coincide with the feast such as the Voyadores Festival, civic and military parades, trade fairs, exhibits, concerts and other mass events.

“[We] enjoin everyone to celebrate in a safe, prayerful and blessed environment,” Tirona and Legacion said.

The Peñafrancia Festival, which has been described as the biggest Marian event in Asia, is a celebration of two feasts—Divino Rostro (Divine Face of Jesus) on the second Friday of September, and the Our Lady of Peñafrancia the next weekend.

This year, the Peñafrancia feast is scheduled from Sept. 11 to Sept. 20, while the 138th year of special devotion to the Divino Rostro is from Sept. 2 to Sept. 11.

Both the World Health Organization and the Department of Health earlier cautioned against the conduct of mass events due to the high likelihood of spread of the COVID-19 virus.

As of Saturday, Bicol has 111 confirmed cases. Of these, nine were in Naga. INQ

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