Fr. Bersabe places the Manto on the heads of devotees as a form of healing. Photo by Josa Camille C. BassigCLAD with golden cape and crowned with a gold diadem, ‘Inang’ came to visit the University last month to extend her healing miracles to the sick.

Fondly called ‘Ina’ by Bicolanos, Our Lady of Peñafrancia has long been attracting devotees who wish to be cured of their illnesses.

Pilgrimage of Ina

To celebrate its 300th year, the image of ‘Inang’ Peñafrancia was brought to different parishes in Metro Manila.

The image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia was first brought to the Edsa Shrine before it was transferred to the Santisimo Rosario Parish for public display from August 23 to 28.

Faculty of Sacred Theology Dean Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P., celebrated the opening mass last August 23 to honor the arrival of the image. It was followed by a procession.

Last August 25, sea of devotees flocked the Parish to have the mantle (Manto) placed on top of their heads while singing the Our Lady of Peñafrancia hymn. This practice is done to ask the patroness to cure their ailments, a tradition observed for many years because of the wide-spread belief about its healing power.

“The imposition of the Manto is a form of prayer in action done to heal a person. This is a long tradition not only for Penafrancia but also to the several images of Our Lady,” Fr. Efren Rivera, O.P., said.

The pilgrimage ended in a Eucharistic celebration presided by Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., last August 28.

In his homily, he said that the value of the Lady of Peñafrancia does not lie on the image, but with the hands that receive it.

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“[Peñafrancia] can’t be equated by its value. It is a symbol of what is best in those who believe in it,” he said.

After its week-long celebration in the campus, the image was transferred to the Our Lady of Pentecost Parish in Quezon City.

Thomasian roots

The devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia in the Philippines, dating back in the 18th century, was introduced by a Thomasian seminarian who was saved by its miraculous power.

Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, a seminarian who studied at the Universidad de Santo Tomas, got very ill in 1712. He and his family earnestly prayed to the Lady of Peñafrancia for his recovery. He vowed that if he would be cured, a Church would be built as thanksgiving.

Covarrubias was miraculously cured, and then fulfilled his vow by building a chapel at Nueva Caceres (now Naga), where he became a priest.

He asked a local artisan to carve an image patterned after the picture of the Lady of Peñafrancia he kept. Since then, stories of various miracles have spread not just in Bicol, but in the Philippines as well as in other countries.

At present, the yearly festival starts with the famous Traslacion procession wherein the image of Our Lady of Penafrañcia is brought from the Peñafrancia shrine to the Naga Cathedral.

The Lady of Penafrancia gathers thousands of pilgrims and devotees to Naga City every third Sunday of September for the celebration of the nine-day festivities in her honor.

The image is returned to the shrine through a fluvial parade on the last day of the festival by placing the Lady on a barge. Devotees escort the image as they ride on a separate boat shouting ‘Viva La Virgen!’ (Long Live the Virgin!) as the Lady reaches the shrine.

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The Manila premier of the musical play “Manto” was featured at the Medicine Auditorium on August 27 to honor the miraculous Lady.

The three act-play titled “Manto: A Journey of Faith” and presented in Bicolano dialect, showcased the history of the Image of Peñafrancia and its effect on the lives of people in its early establishment in Naga.

“The play is about the devotion of the Bicolanos to Penafrancia. The story is somehow relevant to today’s happenings, so people can relate to it,” said Buboy Aguay, director of “Manto”.

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