Peñafrancia processions canceled due to COVID-19

Paterno Esmaquel II
Peñafrancia processions canceled due to COVID-19

Maria Tan Photograpy2017

Devotees of Our Lady of Peñafrancia can celebrate at home or in their parishes as they should avoid traveling to Naga City, according to local authorities

MANILA, Philippines – Local government and church authorities have cancelled the traditional processions for the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, patroness of the Bicol Region, as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus.

Devotees of Our Lady of Peñafrancia can instead celebrate at home, in their parishes, or in their basic ecclesial communities (BECs), said the Naga City Government and the Archdiocese of Caceres in a statement Saturday, June 27.

The Penafrancia festivities are scheduled from September 11 to 20, preceded by another celebration dedicated to the Holy Face of Jesus, or the Divino Rostro, from September 2 to 11.

In their joint statement, Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion and Caceres Archbishp Rolando Octavius Tria Tirona said they have jointly decided to “cancel this year’s holding of processions: traslacion, fluvial, dawn, perdon, harubay, and any procession whatsoever.”

They have likewise suspended the kissing and touching of the Lady of Peñafrancia’s images at the Peñafrancia Basilica and other churches.

Instead, they said the Bicol Region will celebrate the Peñafrancia feast “by way of home-based, BEC-based, or parish-based novena Masses and other religious practices for which purpose all devotees are strongly encouraged to stay and remain in their respective localities and no longer travel to Naga City.”

To allow devotees to participate while in quarantine, the fiesta Mass in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia on September 20 will also be livestreamed, reported the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

These moves, according to Legacion and Tria Tirona, ensure freedom of religion while preventing the spread of COVID-19 “for the common good, public health, and community welfare.”

(READ: Do coronavirus restrictions threaten religious freedom?)

The Department of Health said there are at least 101 coronavirus cases in the Bicol Region, including a one-year-old boy who recently tested positive in Naga City. – with Rhaydz B. Barcia/

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at