The Penafrancia festival held in Naga City, Camarines Sur is not just one of the largest religious events in the Philippines. It is also considered to be one of the biggest Marian celebrations held across Asia.
A Festival of Undying Devotion
This annual festival is held in honor of Our Lady of Penafrancia, fondly called by the locals simply as Ina (Tagalog word for “mother”). It is said that back during the time when the Philippines was still a colony of Spain, a young seminarian by the name of Miguel Robles de Covarrubias got very sick. He prayed to Our Lady of Penafrancia and vowed that if she spared his life, he would erect a chapel in her honor along the banks of the Pasig River in Manila.
The young seminarian did recover, and went on to become a priest. He was assigned in Naga City, Camarines Sur. When he arrived, the first thing that he did was to honor his vow to Our Lady of Penafrancia to whom he owed his recovery. He got the locals to construct a chapel made of humble materials in her name. Since he couldn’t erect the chapel along the Pasig River, he had the chapel built along the banks of the Naga River. He also had an image carved after the picture of Our Lady of Penafrancia he held close to his heart as he prayed for his recovery.
The image is currently housed in the Penafrancia Basilica Minore in the barrio of Balatas, located right in the outskirts of Naga City. Millions of devotees visit the basilica each year to offer their prayers to Our Lady of Penafrancia. Many of these devotees have reported that they have also experienced their own miracles as a result of their devotion.
Highlights of the Penafrancia Festival
Although the actual festival is held on the third Saturday of September, the celebration lasts for an entire week. Here are just some of the things to expect during this year’s Penafrancia festival:
The Penafrancia festival celebration kicks off with the infamous Traslacion. Barefooted male devotees carry the image of Our Lady of Penafrancia and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) from the Penafrancia Basilica Minore to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Naga City. This is where the images will stay throughout the entire festival.
Penafrancia Festival Wedding Photography Seminar and Workshop
The Wedding & Portrait Photographers of the Philippines will conduct a seminar and workshop during the festival. If you want to learn more on how to take pictures like a pro, this is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.
A grand send-off is given to the image of Our Lady of Penafrancia and the Divino Rostro as they return to the Penafrancia Basilica Minore. Instead of bringing them home on foot, they are carried down the Naga River in grand and colorful barges while the crowds shout “Viva La Virgen” (Long Live the Virgin). Just like in the Traslacion, only male devotees are allowed to participate in the procession. Why you may ask? The locals believe that having a woman in the procession will bring bad luck. Whether it’s true or not, we will never know since the devotees would not want to risk it.
Click here for the complete schedule of events for this year’s Penafrancia festival.