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ALBAY, Philippines – Over 100 fishing boats, carrying devoted pilgrims from across the country, set sail for the sacred “Aurora in the Sea” procession at sunrise in Tiwi town in Albay on Saturday, August 19, as part of the celebration of the Legazpi diocesan shrine feast.
For the first time, the sea procession featured revered pilgrim images – the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage from Antipolo and the Black Nazarene from Quiapo – uniting both spiritual and historical significance.
At the heart of it all is the 247-year-old image of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion of Albay. Her veneration is a centuries-old tradition of gratitude in Albay province.
Devotees believe the image, also known as Our Lady of Light, brings strength and inspiration.
Every third Saturday of August, Catholics gather in Tiwi to honor the miraculous image of Our Lady of Salvation. The procession carries the image on a nine-kilometer journey from the sea to a hilltop shrine.
As early as 2 am, people from all walks of life gathered at Joroan’s pier, awaiting the 4 am mass, a solemn start to the annual maritime event just before daybreak.
The procession’s timing was changed from afternoons to mornings under the watch of Fr. Joseph Salando, the parish priest of Joroan and shrine rector.
“Aurora in the Sea” saw boats from Albay’s coastal towns and even distant Camarines Sur. The religious icon, believed by many to be miraculous, drew thousands of devotees from all over the country to various spots in Tiwi, paying homage to the revered figure.
As dawn broke, the faithful waved handkerchiefs along the coast, and the chant “Viva La Virgin” echoed as the procession passed. Those unable to join opted for communal rosaries.
Every third Saturday of August, the Diocese of Legazpi hosts the grand Diocesan Fiesta to honor Our Lady of Salvation in Joroan. The town welcomes pilgrims from across the country throughout August and September.
The third Saturday is a shrine feast, and the last Saturday in August features a nine-kilometer procession from Saint Lawrence Church in Tiwi to the Diocesan Shrine in Joroan.
Saturday’s celebration was exceptional, with pilgrim images taking center stage. Devotees of Our Lady of Salvation, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, and Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno of Quiapo embarked on a seven-kilometer uphill journey from Barangay Naga to Joroan before the maritime event.
The devotion originated in the 1770s due to miracles attributed to the Nuestra Senora de Salvacion image during Spanish times.
Centuries ago, during pirate attacks, the coastal town found refuge in the hills of Joroan, praying for protection in a chapel with the image of the Virgin Mary.
Based on narratives, Mariano Dacuba cleared land and found a tree’s leaves didn’t wilt. Sculptor Bagacumba then carved three images from it: Nuestra Senora de Salvacion, San Antonio de Padua, and Nuestra Senora de Soledad (Our Lady of Sorrows).
On August 25, 1776, the image was entrusted to Joroan’s care, with the requirement to build a chapel. In 1853, Buhi relinquished its claim for P50 and P25 for a bell.
In 1805, a typhoon prompted the moving of the image to Tiwi, starting a conflict. An assembly in 1918 resolved this, returning the image the following year.
In 1975, Bishop Teotimo Pacis of Legazpi named it the “heavenly patroness of Albay,” and a year later, the diocese commemorated the bicentennial jubilee of its patroness by building a new shrine and bestowing the image with a crown. Cardinal Jaime Sin canonically crowned the image on August 25, 1976. – Rappler.com