9-day novena mass for Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar reels off in Zambo

October 3, 2012 9:54 pm 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Oct. 3 — Devotees of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar from far and wide and coming from all walks of life trooped to the Fort Pilar Shrine for the start Wednesday of the nine-day novena mass in honor of the revered patron saint of this southern port city.

Every morning starting at 5 a.m., devotees also join the procession from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the Fort Pilar Shrine followed by the 6 a.m. Holy Mass.

The novena and processions will culminate on October 12, the feast day of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar.

The activities on the fiesta day will start with the Diana/Holy Rosary at the shrine at 4 a.m.; mañanita at 4:40 a.m.; mass at 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.; grand procession at 3:30 p.m. from the Cathedral to the Shrine; mass at 4:30 p.m.; Pontifical Mass at 5 p.m. and Mass at 6:30 a.m.

The Archdiocese of Zamboanga organizes the religious activities forming part of the Fiesta Hermosa 2012, the city’s grandest festival held annually in honor of the Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar.

The festival kicked off October 1 with various socio-cultural activities organized by the city government and other private agencies and groups.

Mayor Celso Lobregat enjoins everyone to join and participate in the activities lined up for the festival that include songs, dances and presentations showcasing the city’s unique chabacano language, colorful history and rich culture.

However, Lobregat stressed, amid the fun and the merriment, people should not forget the real reason for the celebration which is Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Pilar.

The Fort Pilar is a 17th century military defense fortress built by the Spanish colonial government in Zamboanga City.

It is now a regional museum of the National Museum of the Philippines and is considered a major landmark of the city and is a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Outside the eastern wall is a Marian Shrine dedicated to Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Pilar, the revered patroness of this city.

The Wikipedia recounts miracles through Marian apparitions at the Fort Pilar. “It was in 1734, when a relief of the Our Lady of the Pillar was placed above the eastern wall of the fort, making it an outdoor shrine with an altar for praying.

Tradition reveals the Virgin Mary appeared to a soldier on December 6, 1734, at the gate of the city.

Not recognizing her, the soldier asked her to stop.

Upon recognizing her, he fell down to his knees.”

“On September 21, 1897 at 1:14 p.m. in the afternoon, a strong earthquake struck the western region of Mindanao.

The Virgin Mary made an apparition, according to the people who witnessed it, and they saw the virgin standing mid-air over the Basilan Strait, and had her right hand raised to signal the onrushing waves to stop, saving the city from a tsunami.”

Meanwhile, the socio-cultural activities heat up, as Fiesta Hermosa 2012 is now on its fourth day.

Nightly from October 1 to 8, different barangays of the city present cultural shows dubbed “Wow Zamboanga” at the Paseo del Mar.

On Thursday will be the blessing of pets at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Joseph Church and the Miss Zamboanga 2012 pageant at 8 p.m. at Astoria Regency.

Tomorrow, October 5 will be the opening of the Regional Convention of Operating Room Nurses’ Association of the Philippines at the Garden Orchid Hotel, Pilar College Grand Alumni Homecoming (Oct. 5-7) at the Pilar College; Little Princess Zamboanga 2012 at 6 p.m. at the Astoria Regency; 30th Chabacano Song Festival at 7 p.m. at the Garden Orchid Hotel; and Mayor Celso Lobregat Open Bowling Tournament (Oct. 5-7) at 6 p.m. at the Tebi & Sean Bowling Center. (PNA)

LAP/TEOFILO P. GARCIA/UTB

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