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Here’s What to Expect in This Year’s Peñafrancia Festival

From online novena masses to canceled processions, we list the changes on this year's Peñafrancia Festival.

The traditional Peñafrancia Festival for this year will be toned down as the Archdiocese of Caceres complies with the public safety guidelines of the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, changes are introduced to how Bicolanos show their gratitude to Ina (the region’s icon– for being a refuge against the threats of the COVID-19 and calamities. Archbishop Tirona assured that though there will be changes, the devotees will still have a chance to express their fervent devotion and implore her maternal affection. (Read: ‘Religious festivals can resume but strict guidelines should be followed’ – CBCP)

Instead of the traditional novenas to the Divino Rostro (The Holy Face of Jesus) and to the Our Lady of Peñafrancia at the Peñafrancia Shrine and Basilica Minore, the devotion is encouraged to be done in the devotees’ homes. Novena prayers and guides are available in the Archdiocese of Caceres website and Facebook page

Parishes will still hold novena Masses but should adhere to health protocols. The Pagsungko ni Ina or visits of the image in the parishes will still occur but without a procession before September. (Read: ‘Strict social distancing’ shall be observed during Mass – CBCP)

The Fiesta Mass on September 20 will be streamed live from the Basilica Minore. Parishes will be livestreaming in their areas as well.

Novena Masses Online

Photo from CNS / Katie Rutter / The Tablet

Every year, the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia draws millions of devotees and pilgrims. Archbishop Tirona advised everyone that instead of traveling all the way to the Shrine, devotees should follow mainstream broadcasts and attend the masses in their respective parishes. The suffragan dioceses of Legazpi, Sorsogon, Daet, Virac, and Masbate have been requested to hold novena masses on the same dates so devotees will not have to travel to Naga City.

Nobody will be allowed to kiss and touch images. There will be no imposition of the mantle or cape of Our Lady that is believed to have healing powers on sick pilgrims. (Read: Lourdes, France: The Most Famous Healing Shrine in the World)

Canceled Events

The images of Our Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro ride back to the basilica aboard a pagoda, or shrine barge, on the Naga River. (Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Caceres / Catholics & Cultures)

There will also be no Traslacion and Fluvial Procession this year. The images of the Divino Rostro will remain at the Peñafrancia Parish while the image of Our Lady will stay at the Basilica Minore. (Read: Quiapo Church Put on Lockdown as Priest Tests Positive for COVID-19)

“While we cancel the traditional Traslacion and Fluvial processions, let us take this as an opportunity for the devotion to become more distinctive and rooted in our families, the domestic Church,” said Archbishop Tirona.

All other civic activities, military parades, competitions, beauty pageants, and trade fairs are also canceled this year.

The devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia began 310 years ago while the celebration of the Feast of the Divino Rostro is in its 138th year.

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