NAGA City, September 21, 2014 – In a timely message during the feast of the El Divino Rostro, Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona called on the faithful to “deepen” their experiences of God, especially during the special celebration of the archdiocese.
“Deepen your experiences this fiesta, your relationship with the Father, through openness,” he said during a holy mass celebrated on the feast of the El Divino Rostro on September 12.
“As we close a feast and open another, let us remain awake to our experiences and be moved by the loving gaze of mercy and compassion of the Father through Jesus,” the prelate added.
Held at the Parish and Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the said Eucharistic celebration also witnessed the installation of Fr. Rey Rellora, parish priest of the said Shrine, as spiritual director of the Divino Rostro Association (Divostra) and the induction of its new members.
With a cholera pandemic breaking out in Metro Manila in 1882, the devotion to El Divino Rostro in Naga City was promoted by Fr. Pedro de la Torre, then Vicar General of the Diocese of Nueva Caceres. Hailing from Osa de la Vega, a place spared from the cholera epidemic of 1834 and 1853 through the devotion to the Divino Rostro, thus a devotee himself, de la Torre carried with him a replica of the venerated image.
He then sought the approval of Bishop Casimiro Herrera “to enshrine the holy picture at the Cathedral where the people could venerate it for the whole duration of the epidemic.” On August 26, 1882, the prelate advised the lay faithful to seek the intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, bringing her image to the Cathedral.
Since then, the two have been inseparable. Devotions to both have greatly influenced the spiritual lives, not only of the Nagueños, but also of the Bicolanos, in general. To this very day, thousands of pilgrims and devotees seek both Mother and Child for aid and support, not just every September but year round. (Natalie Hazel Quimlat)