Celebrating 300 years of devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia

I was browsing through my Postcards Crossing account in Facebook when I saw a post by a good friend that caught my attention right away. Myron, of Filatelia Filipinas, announced that the Philippine Postal Corporation issued a commemorative stamp celebrating the tercentenary -  that’s 300 years -  of devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, and that he has several FDCs to swap with whoever is interested. Needless to say, I acted faster than a speeding bullet and sent him an email requesting to reserve/send me a souvenir FDC.

Below is one of the two FDCs he generously sent me :)

   Sent by Myron dela Paz 
  Postmarked Araneta Center, Cubao Quezon City, Philippines

Stamp Designs: 
Top, left: Image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, 1924; Top, right: Image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, 2009

Below, left: Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine; Below, right: Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Naga City

One of the many Catholic traditions the Spaniards brought to our country is the devotion to the Virgin Mary. One example of this devotion is exemplified by the people of Naga City’s (one of the first Spanish settlements in the Philippines in the 15th century) and Bicol region’s unshakeable faith and love to Our Lady of Peñafrancia. It is their belief that She will intercede for us and lift our prayers to God; thus, prayers and petitions are answered through Her intercession.

The feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is celebrated on the third Saturday of September in Naga City, Bicol. The feast day is preceded by a novena, nine days of prayer, in honor of the Virgin. On the first day, the image of the Virgin, a copy of the Madonna in Peñafrancia, Spain, is brought from its shrine to the Naga Cathedral where the novena is held. On the last day, the image is returned to her shrine following the Naga River route. The colorful evening procession is lit by thousands of candles from devotees in boats escorting the image. When the barge reaches its destination, the devotees shout "Viva la Virgen" (Long live the Virgin!) and the image is brought back in a procession to the cathedral.

The feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is considered to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, religious festival in the Philippines. I have been witness to the festival many, many times and when you hear people say that we Filipinos are known for religious fervor and grandiose fiestas, then the Peñafrancia festival is the best example of such. Read this for more on the colourful Peñafrancia festival.

This entry is very special to me because I am reminded of my mother. My mother is from Naga City, and although she is living away from her hometown and beloved Ina for many decades now, she kept her faith and continued her devotion. When finances allow her, she goes back to her hometown in Naga City every September, along with other devotees and pilgrims, to fulfill a panata (vow). 

For more about Our Lady of Peñafrancia, please visit Wikipedia, or better yet, check out the official Our Lady of Penafrancia site.

N.B.: This post originally appeared at my Postcards Crossing  blog a week ago.

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