Our Lady of Lourdes, Patroness and Mother of the Capuchins in the Philippines, was regaled in a grand procession in her honor in the evening of her feast day at her National Shrine in Quezon City.
Devotees, friars, and religious gathered by 5pm at the Shrine’s courtyards where carrozas carrying images of St. Jospeh, St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Bernadette, and Our Lady were parked. Students and Scouts from Lourdes School of Quezon City arrived in color-coded shirts and decal-uniforms to provide human chain-links to keep order in the procession. Speakers held high on poles connected to transistor radios where the Rosary was being broadcast via 1530 on the AM-band. There were Acolytes leading the procession at the head and another escorting the Lady’s carroza at the rear. Honor guards flanked her carroza, her image brightly-lit against the fading lavender-and-pink dusk skies, and towering over rich layers of white orchids, chrysanthema, and aromatic blooms. Ladies of the Archconfraternity, with their distinctive long white lace veils over their heads and bright sky-blue belts around the waist of white dresses, carried candles as they walked in front of Our Lady’s carroza just behind an antique banner (estandarte) of the Archonfraternity held aloft by a male confrere and steadied by two ladies on either side. The friars walked between their columns, just behind the estandarte.
The procession weaved through most of the barangays (neighborhood communities) of the Shrine-parish during its 4.1km, three-hour journey. The phallanx stretched at least 600m long on the home-stretch, while many other devotees stood by on the sidewalks of the procession’s route. Many of them carried candles and mouthed prayers as the carrozas went by, some signing themselves with the cross and a loving look coming over their faces as they behold the image of Our Lady come nearer and pass by. There were many sick and elderly among them, for those who were physically incapable of joining the procession had braved the early evening chills to prayerfully watch Our Lady’s entourage pass. Some streets along the route were lined with long rows of candles; one was lit with a series of torches. One barangay installed a contraption on an arch under which Our Lady’s image would pass so that red rose petals showered on her as her carroza went through. On many street corners and in front of some households, makeshift altars and grottos featuring images of Our Lady of Lourdes were also erected as an homage to the procession and a sign of fealty and devotion to the Holy and Immaculate Mother of God.
By half past eight, the rear of the procession was almost back at the Shrine. As the last and grandest carroza made its turn from Retiro to Kanlaon, Quezon City Volunteer Firefighters kept the corner clear of devotees who’d normally prefer to stay very close to the carroza at these last moments. Upon arriving at the Shrine’s patio, the Scouts this time formed a strong human chain around Our Lady’s carroza otherwise many devotees would rush to pluck the flowers adorning her carriage–not merely as souvenirs but as relics and signs of devotion. Finally, carried on the shoulders of extraordinary ministers of communion, with a sonorous voice sweetly singing a serenade to Our Lady, her image was solemnly brought down the central passageway of the Shrine, preceded by the friars and members of the Archconfraternity. Other friars were already at the sanctuary waiting to welcome the arrival of Our Lady’s image and, after having been enthroned in a place of honor, the friars with the devotees knelt before it in prayer and veneration. After the proper words of thanks and solemn blessings, the people were given leave to dismiss–but many chose to stay behind and pray. There were still a handful of devotees at the pews by 11pm and the Shrine remained open and lit until they left.
[ More pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/filipinocapuchins01/sets/72157640880751673 ]
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