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Our Lady of Peñafrancia

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Our Lady of Peñafrancia
Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia
Queen of Bicolandia
Patroness of Bicol
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Major shrineMinor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of St. John the Evangelist
Old Shrine and Parish of Peñafrancia
FeastSunday after the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (third or fourth Sunday of September)
PatronageBicol region, Sick, Poor, Afflicted, Clergy, Archdiocese of Caceres

Our Lady of Peñafrancia (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia) is an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Marian image is permanently enshrined in the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga, Camarines Sur.


The devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia originates from the province of Salamanca, Spain.[1]

In the 1400s, Simón Vela, who came from a rich family, gave up his inheritance to become a laybrother of a Franciscan convent in Paris. He journeyed to the mountains of Peña de Francia in Salamanca after hearing a voice instructing him to look for a sacred image of Mary. The name of "La Peña de Francia" probably refers to the immigrants who came from France in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The statue had been hidden with other images and church bells to prevent them from falling into the hands of Moors/Saracens.[2] In 1434, Vela found the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia buried under a rock on the mountain of Peña de Francia.[3]

When miraculous healings began to be reported Vela built a chapel to house the image. Later a larger church, the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia, was built on the plains at the top of Peña de Francia that was given to the Dominicans to administer. In the fifteenth century, they built the church, the convent and a hospice to accommodate pilgrims. The tower was built in 1767.[4] The image was canonically crowned in 1952.[2]

The Philippines[edit]

Our Lady of Peñafrancia de Manila

In 1712, Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, a seminarian studying at the Universidad de Santo Tomas in Manila, and the son of a Spanish official from Peña de Francia fell seriously ill.[5] He had a holy card of the image found by Simón Vela, and placed it on whatever part of his body greatly pained him. This gave him relief from his suffering. In gratitude, he built a small church of nipa by a brook near the Pasig River, which enshrined the circa 1690 canvas copy of the painting. The painting is located at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia de Manila in Paco.

statue of Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, Naga
Historical Marker at the Church of Nuestra Señora de Peña de Francia

Covarrubias was ordained to the priesthood in Ciudad de Nueva Cáceres (now Naga City), where he became parish priest at the cathedral. He had a local artisan carve a statue replicating the painting of the Virgin, and built a stone church to house the statue.[2] Many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, which popularized the devotion with both natives and immigrant Chinese.

The devotion spread outside the Diocese of Nueva Cáceres, which then comprised not only the Bicolandia, but also Tayabas (now Quezon), Marinduque, Laguna, and up to Palanan, Isabela along the Cordillera Central range.

When Francisco Gainza arrived in Naga in 1863 to take possession of the See of Nueva Cáceres, one of his priorities was spreading of devotion. On September 1, 1864, Gainza initiated the Traslación Procession on the Friday before the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, where the image was brought from Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine to the cathedral for a solemn novena, then on the afternoon of the ninth day, a Saturday, returned through the “Traslación por el río” (now called the Fluvial Procession), for her feast on Sunday.[citation needed]

Canonical coronation[edit]

On 20 September 1924, the image was canonically crowned by the Apostolic Delegate, Monsignor William Piani, at Naga Cathedral. As part of the preparations for the coronation, there was a Contest for Best Musical Composition. The winning piece, “Himno a la Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia", composed by the Spanish priest, Maximo Juguera, became the Anthem of the Coronation and of every annual Fiesta.

In 2024 the Archdiocese of Cáceres celebrates the 100 anniversary of the canonical coronation of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The theme of the celebration is Se siempre la Reina! (Be always the Queen!) from the concluding petition verse of the Himno á la Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia.[6]

Theft of the image[edit]

Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine, Naga City

On August 15, 1981, at around 4:30 in the morning, the caretaker of the Peñafrancia Shrine discovered that the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia had disappeared. The police reported that the culprits sawed the iron grills at the back of the church and took the image. The identity of the thieves remained a mystery; with the leading theory that they were selling to a black market of valuable items. The manto and the steel bar which held the image were found on the cemetery grounds of Peñafrancia Shrine without the image. In May 1982, an antique dealer and also a Peñafrancia devotee, Francisco Vecin, acquired information suggesting a man in Mabini St. of Malate, Manila, was selling the image, with it allegedly in the hands of a friend at that time. He reported to Florencio Yllana that the lost image was located in Cebu. On September 3, 1982, the image was turned over to Francisco in a sealed box. The image was returned in Naga on September 8, 1982, the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. Following the theft, officials opted for the production of a replica to be used in the 1981 Peñafrancia celebrations. Today, the original image is enshrined in the Peñafrancia Basilica, which forms part of the basilica complex along Balatas Street in Naga City, which was built to accommodate the rising numbers of devotees from the Bicol region, as well as nationwide starting in the late 1970s. The replica is used in all of the major processions.


Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga City

In 1960, the first Archbishop of Caceres, Pedro P. Santos, dreamt of building a new and bigger church to be a basilica and permanent sanctuary of the Lady of Peñafrancia in Bicol. The task was assumed by his successor, Teopisto V. Alberto.

On October 30, 1973, the shrine was created into a parish with the Auxiliary Bishop of Caceres, Concordio Sarte, as the first parish priest.

The new church was completed in 1981 and subsequently dedicated as the "Church of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. The statue commissioned by Covarrubias was then moved from the parish shrine to the new church, which in 1985 was declared a minor basilica.

The Tercentenary Celebration[edit]

The image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia at the Quadricentennial Arch in Naga Metropolitan Cathedral during the Tercentenary Celebration of the devotion.

In 2010, the devotion marked its 300th year.

The Archdiocese of Caceres outlined a three-year preparation for the tercentenary with each year centered on a particular theme and objective.

  • Year 1 (September 2007 to September 2008 ) the theme was "Remembering the Gift of the Devotion to Ina", dedicated to revisiting the history of the devotion in view of a deeper understanding of the same devotion.
  • Year 2 (September 2008 to September 2009) theme was "Renewing the Faith through Ina", dedicated to appreciating the devotees’ giftedness towards a more vibrant and relevant faith life.
  • Year 3 (September 2009 to September 2010) theme was "Sharing the Future in Hope", dedicated to envisioning the future with the intent of sharing the fruits of the devotion to the next generations.

In Year 4 (September 2010), the church in Bicol celebrated in thanksgiving the grace of 300 Years of Devotion. The overall theme of the celebration is "A Gift received, a Gift to share" (Balaog inako, Balaog itao).

Feast day[edit]

The image enshrined above the main altar of the Minor Basilica

In Spain, the Feast of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia is September 8.

In 1895, Pope Leo XIII, acting on the petition of the clergy and members of the Diocese of Nueva Cáceres, issued a rescript fixing the feast day of Our Lady of Peñafrancia on the first Sunday of July, and declaring her principal patroness of the city of Nueva Cáceres. Pope Pius X, through a rescript dated April 8 1905, reassigned the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia to the Sunday after the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

To determine the annual date of the celebrations in Bicol, the main reference is the Nativity of Mary on September 8, and then its Octave day of September 15, with the actual feast day on the Sunday right after. The Traslación marking the start of the Novenary is held the afternoon of the Friday ten days prior, and the Fluvial Procession on the Saturday or vigil of the feast.[citation needed]

The Peñafrancia Festival[edit]

Peñafrancia Festival
The Fluvial Procession in 2010
Observed byNaga, Camarines Sur
TypeReligious / Cultural
DateSunday after the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sunday after September 15)
2023 dateSeptember 17
2024 dateSeptember 22
2025 dateSeptember 21
2026 dateSeptember 20

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.[7]

Considered the biggest and most popular religious event in the Philippines, the September festivities of the Lady and Mother of Bicol form an opening salvo to the long celebrations of Christmas in the Philippines, which begin on the month the celebrations are held in Bicol and in many other parts of the country. Tens of thousands of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists come to Naga City, Philippines every September for the novena festivities in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the Patroness of Bicol.

Feast day[edit]

Our Lady of Peñafrancia replica at the Catholic Church-owned San Juan de Dios Hospital.

The feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is celebrated on the third Saturday of September. Filipinos at home or abroad gather in to meet relatives and friends, to share food, drinks, and prayers with them, and to pay homage and make thanksgiving to the Virgin of Peñafrancia.[8]

The feast day is preceded by a novena 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 Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of Saint John the Evangelist where the novena is held. On the last day, the image is returned to her shrine following the Naga River route. The evening procession is lit by thousands of candles from followers in boats escorting the image. When the flatboat reaches its destination, the devotees shout "Viva la Virgen" ("Long live the Virgin!") and the image is carried back in a procession to the cathedral. Amongst the cheers Bicolanos and pilgrims, holding lit candles in their hands, will kneel on the ground and bow their heads in prayer as the fluvial procession carrying the Virgin traverses the Bicol River in downtown Naga.

A multicolored pagoda carrying the images and icons of the Virgin of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro pass along the Bicol River. The fluvial procession marks the return of the Virgin from the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral to her home shrine at the basilica. Upon its arrival, the Virgin will be received in formal religious rites by Roman Catholic dignitaries of the Bicol Region led by the Archbishop of Nueva Caceres, which is its home diocese. [citation needed]

Novena to the Divino Rostro or "The Divine Face"[edit]

The celebration begins with the Feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8, which is marked by Masses in the old shrine or the Metropolitan Cathedral.

The feast of the Divino Rostro, which falls on the second Friday of September, is the first high point of the celebration. The festival begins with a nine-day Novena honoring the Divino Rostro, a local icon of Holy Face commencing on the second Friday of September. Devotion to the Holy Face in Naga City began in 1882 with a cholera epidemic in Naga. According to legend, the epidemic subsided after the image of the Holy Face was placed at the altar of the cathedral.[1]

The icon of the Holy Face is brought in procession from Our Lady of Peñafrancia Basilica to the old Peñafrancia Shrine, where it stays for nine days, with a usual focus on the sick. Generally, the first devotees begin their celebrations during this period. The "Hymn to the Divino Rostro" is sung at the end of services.[citation needed]


The second Friday of September marks the feast day of the Divino Rostro, following the novena at the shrine. During the Traslacion procession, the images of the Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are brought by barefooted male voyages from the basilica through the main streets of the city to the cathedral. This procession, which usually lasts 4 hours, welcomes thousands of devotees from all over Bicol and other parts of the country. The devotion started in 1710 when Miguel Robles de Covarrubias had an image carved, a chapel built and processions held in honor of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Peñafrancia to honor the many favors he is said to have received through the help of the Virgin, especially about his health.

The image of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia is transferred at dawn from Peñafrancia basilica to her old home for the Traslación in the afternoon. After the procession, a community and thanksgiving Mass celebrates the feast of the Divino Rostro. Bishops and delegates from other dioceses in the country then attend a Pontifical Mass, concelebrated by the Archbishop of Caceres outside the shrine.

The Traslación begins after the noon mass with the procession of students, delegates from other regions, teachers, government officials, and other professionals while the images are being prepared. At around three o'clock in the Afternoon, the Divino Rostro icon leaves the shrine and heads to Naga Cathedral. After a recital of the Rosary, the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia follows, more slowly than the Divino Rostro. After two or three hours, the Divino Rostro icon arrives at the cathedral, and after an hour, the image of Our Lady enters via the Porta Mariae (Gate of Mary). A Solemn Pontifical Mass (first-day Novenary Mass) is celebrated after the procession at the Quadricentennial Arch at the cathedral grounds, in the conclusion of the Mass, the two images are transferred inside of the cathedral to begin the novena for Our Lady as the people sing Resuene Vibrante.[citation needed]

Novena to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia[edit]

On the beginning of Traslación, the novena to the Our Lady starts at the cathedral. This celebration in itself is said to have healed attendants. The novena centers around Mary's intercession to Jesus and its set around a given theme for the year. During some of the days of the novena, dawn and evening processions are mounted within the vicinity of Naga wherein the images of both Our Lady and the Divino Rostro are brought out to the streets of the city. Believers vie for the honor of sponsoring novena masses and prayers at the Naga Cathedral during the novena days and the themes for the days are chosen by the Archdiocese.[citation needed]

Parades and celebrations[edit]

Different parades are held during the novena to the Our Lady. These events are open to the public, with coverage on radio and television as well as on online streaming. The Saturday following the Translacion, the citywide Marian Youth Congress is held, gathering young people from the city and region to share and strengthen their faith.

During the Sunday after the Traslacion, the majorettes, CAT, and Drum and Lyre Corps, plus marching bands, exhibit their dancing, music playing, and silent drill at the Robredo Coliseum, with the best in each category being announced at the end of the day's events. On the Tuesday before the Fluvial Procession, the Regional Cheer-dance Competition is held at the Robredo Coliseum, with almost all of the schools and universities in Bicol participating in the event.

On Wednesday, school contingents of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the Philippines, from elementary, high schools and senior high schools from all over the Bicol Region together with their school Drum and Lyre corps, drum majors and majorettes parade in the daylong, Regional BSP/GSP and Drum and Lyre Corps parade and competition at the Plaza Quezon. Awards are given to the best contingents and DLCs which have distinguished themselves.

On Thursday, the Civic Parade of the Government workers, and different associations and organizations in Bicol, along with the Float Parade that is joined by hundreds of floats honoring Ina, is held in the morning. In recent years, this has been followed in the afternoon by a street dance competition between schools in the city and the region at Plaza Quezon. The best float of the morning and the champion of the afternoon ritual dance showdown are awarded after the events.

On Friday, the popular and century-old military parade, performed by all high schools, senior high schools, colleges and universities of the Bicol region, as well as service personnel of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fire Protection, parade in the major streets of Naga City. It is considered to be the longest military parade outside Manila due to its daylong, sometimes going past sundown, parade, and is one of the largest to be held in Southeast Asia, with an estimated 70,000 marchers, mostly youth and university cadets and students together with athletes. Dubbed the Bicol Region Military Parade, it is considered one of the highlights of the celebrations, with the mayor of Naga acting as the reviewing officer. Awards and decorations are handed out to the best contingents and bands at the end of the long parade.[citation needed]

Fluvial Procession[edit]

Fluvial Procession during Penafrancia Festival on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia.

A fluvial procession at the end of the novena caps the feast. Following a farewell service at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, the images are both carried through the streets and then in a pagoda (the Filipino term for a decorated shrine-barge, usually with more than one tier, used in fluvial processions) on its return journey to the minor basilica, where a Pontifical Mass is held. Along the route, people shout "¡Viva La Virgen!" and people wave handkerchiefs and towels.

The images of both Our Lady and the Divino Rostro are escorted by a battalion of devotees, most of them aboard colorful paddle boats pulling the pagoda, and those who are privileged men joining the icons on the pagoda together with the bishops of Bicol and officials. Tradition holds that a woman riding on the pagoda during the September fluvial procession will spell disaster for everyone involved.[citation needed][tone]

Festival Sunday[edit]

Festival masses held on the Sunday after the Octave of the Nativity of Mary at the Peñafrancia Minor Basilica mark the official termination of the festivities. Masses are held all day long in all the Catholic parishes and diocese cathedrals of the Bicol Region. In addition, masses are held in many parts of the country in her honor, organized by local devotees' associations.

On the Monday following the solemnity the schools that have won the championship as best contingents or bands in the Friday parade hold one final parade - a sort of victory parade - in their communities.[citation needed]

Changes in the Peñafrancia Fiesta celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

With the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, the Archdiocese of Caceres and the Naga City Government reduced the 2020 festivities to comply with minimum health standards enforced nationwide.[9]

As such, the following changes were made:

  • Instead of holding public novena prayers to the Divino Rostro from September 2 to 10 and the novena to Our Lady of Peñafrancia from September 11 to 19, at the Peñafrancia Shrine, Metropolitan Naga Cathedral, and the Minor Basilica, the Novena was instead prayed in the homes of the faithful.
  • The annual Traslación and Fluvial Procession were cancelled.
  • The feast day Mass on 20 September 2020 was streamed live from the Peñafrancia Basilica.
  • Other dioceses in Bicol were asked to hold Masses locally on the same date, to avoid pilgrims entering the city.
  • All civic and commercial activities connected to the feast, such as the Voyadores Festival, civic and military parades, trade fairs, exhibits, and concerts, were cancelled.

The same changes were adopted for the 2021 Peñafrancia Festivities from 01 to 19 September 2021. Traditional celebrations resumed in 2022, with precautions against COVID infections.


In Spain, Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the patroness of Ciudad Rodrigo. In Fuerteventura a festival is held on the third Saturday of September.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the patroness of the Bicol Region of the Philippines. She is also the patroness of the city of Naga, the province of Camarines Sur, and the Diocese of Caceres. She is also considered the patroness of seafarers, farmers, and fishermen.


The veneration of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is one of the oldest and largest Filipino Marian celebrations in San Diego, with almost 50 years of active celebration.[10]


The Himno a la Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, commonly known to devotees by its incipit "Resuene Vibrante”, is the official hymn of the image and its devotion. Composed in 1924 by Máximo Huguera, it won first prize in the hymn-writing competition for the image’s canonical coronation. The hymn was translated to Central Bikol by Jesús Esplana and Sohl Saez, but the original Spanish lyrics were made the sole official text at the image’s tercentenary in 2010.

Spanish text[edit]


Resuene vibrante el himno de amor
Que entona tu pueblo con grata y emoción
Resuene vibrante el himno de amor
Que entona tu pueblo con grata emoción
Patrona del Bícol, Gran Madre de Dios
Sé siempre la Reina de Nuestra Región
Patrona del Bícol, Gran Madre de Dios
Sé siempre la Reina de Nuestra Región.

Estrofa I:

Los ríos murmuran tu nombre al correr
Los montes proclaman tu gloria y poder
El pueblo creyente con gozo te ve
Te canta amoroso y besa tu pie
El pueblo creyente con gozo te ve
Te canta amoroso y besa tu pie.


Estrofa II:

Patrona del Bicol altar del amor
Reliquia bendita que el cielo nos dio
Escucha benigna del pueblo el clamor
Que acude a tu Templo con fé y devoción
Patrona del Bicol altar del amor
Reliquia bendita que el cielo nos dio
Escucha benigna del pueblo el clamor
Que acude a tu Templo con fé y devoción.


Estrofa III:

Los pobres y tristes te buscan con fé
Te miran llorando les miras también
Al punto sus lágrimas se truscan en bien
Y a casa gozosos les vemos volver
Los pobres y tristes te buscan con fé
Te miran llorando les miras también
Al punto sus lágrimas se truscan en bien
Y a casa gozosos les vemos volver


Central Bikol version[edit]

Maski an kasalogan, Sambit an si'mong ngaran
Maski an kabukiran, Ika an rokyaw.
Kami si'mong aki, Pano' nin kaogmahan
Si'mong nangangako, Ika kamo'tan.
Kami si'mong aki, Pano' nin kaogmahan
Si'mong nangangako, Ika kamo'tan.

Awiton an awit nin pagkamoot
Sa saimo samuyang idinodolot
Awiton an awit nin pagkamoot
Sa saimo samuyang idonodolot.
Patrona nin Bikol, Ina ka nin Dios
Magdanay na Reina nin samuyang region,
Patrona nin Bikol, Ina ka nin Dios
Magdanay na Reina nin samuyang region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Valderama Fortunado, Arnulfo et al., "Peñafrancia Festival & Divino Rostro feature novenas and fluvial procession", Catholics & Cultures
  2. ^ a b c "History of the Devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia", Archdiocese of Caceres
  3. ^ "Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia Sanctuary", España
  4. ^ "Sanctuary of the Peña de Francia", Turismo Castilla y Leon
  5. ^ Salcedo, Margaux (2021-09-19). "Bicolano dishes on fire". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2024-01-06.
  6. ^ "Centenary of the Canonical Coronation of the Image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia", Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cáceres
  7. ^ Yee, Jovic. "Church, Naga City cancel Peñafrancia Festival", Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 29, 2020
  8. ^ "Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia", Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Beaverton, Oregon
  9. ^ Acuña, Melo. "Covid-19 tones down traditional Peñafrancia festivities", CBCP News, June 27, 2020
  10. ^ "Feast Day Mass for Our Lady of Peñafrancia", The Roman Cathokic Diocese of San Diego


External links[edit]