Penafrancia Fluvial Procession In Chicago

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A fluvial procession in honor of Our Lady of Penafrancia will culminate on Saturday, Sept. 17 at about 4:30 p.m. the nine-day observance of the feast of the patroness of Bikolanos in the Philippines from Belmont Harbor to Burnham Harbor in Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois.

Roger R. Odiamar and Fr. Nelson Garcia jointly announced that the nine-day of prayer kicked off Friday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m. with a procession from the Shrine to the main altar of St. Matthias Church at 2310 W. Ainslie in Chicago’s north side with Naga City as its host.

Subsequent Chaplet, Rosary, Novena will all be held daily starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 at up to Saturday, Sept. 17, at St. Matthias Church.

Each day will be the turn of each of the six provinces and three cities of the Bikol region to host the celebration that will be accompanied by Penafrancia, Santo Nino, Sinagtala Choirs.

Masses will be celebrated by Fathers Nelson Garcia, Danilo Soriano, John Era and Andre Beltran.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, considered the Feast Day, Bishop Manalo de los Santos will lead the celebration of mass assisted by Fathers Renato de la Rosa and Danilo Soriano with Deacon Roland Merced.

The ceremonies will start at 3 p.m. for the assembly and motorcade in front of St. Matthias before proceeding to the Belmont Harbor. At 3:30 p.m., bus leaves for the Belmont Harbor.

At 4:30 p.m., the fluvial procession starts at Belmont Harbor en route to Burnham Harbor. At 6:15 p.m., the motorcade will start from Burnham Harbor towards St. Matthias Church with Chaplet, Rosary & Novena prayed by the devotees aboard the boats simultaneously with the devotees in St. Matthias Church; at 6:45, there will be call to worship and arrival of the Virgin Mary (INA) at St. Matthias; and a 7 p.m. concelebrated “Misa Cantada” follows inside St. Matthias.


A fellowship and buffet dinner that will be supervised by Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest President Evelyn Tolledo and Fely Odiamar will follow at the Parish Social Hall.

The Penafrancia festivity in Chicago is a replication of a similar event in Naga City and other parts of the world being observed by the Bikolanos, who have been observing the event annually during the last 300 years.

According to Wikipedia, the Penafrancia festivities pay homage to the picture of a Virgin Mary, which spared the life of very ill seminarian of the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila. The seminarian, Miguel Robles de Covarrubias made a vow to construct a chapel by the banks of Pasig River if he could recover.

But when he did, the seminarian would later be ordained a priest at Ciudad de Nueva Caceres (now Naga City), where he mobilized the natives to construct a chapel by the bank of the Naga River. Then, Father Miguel asked a local artisan to carve an image patterned after the picture of the Virgin Mary with the Child in her arms, using the blood of a dog as a coal/paint. According to legend, after the neck of the dog was slashed, the dog was dumped into the Naga River. But instead of floating away, the dog came alive and swam safely to the bank of the river to the astonishment of hundreds of witnesses. It would start a host of miracles attributed to the Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia that came from Penafrancia in Spain. The miracles attracted millions of devotees. (

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