Wednesday, September 3, 2014

History of the Divino Rostro

In the small village of Osa de la Vega in Spain, there lived a couple who led a very pious life. They were Gregorio de la Torre and Isabel Corral. From their father, Juan Montilla, they inherited a picture of the Face of Jesus or the Divino Rostro.


A story that is told one day, to the amazement of many who confirmed its veracity, the picture began to perspire with living blood. News of his extraordinary event spread swiftly and widely throughout the land. Many people from different places came to see for themselves the miracle. As a result, the couple decided to transfer the image to the church, for their house became too small to accommodate huge crowd of people. There in the church the image instantly became the object of a very special devotion of the inhabitants.

During the years 1834, 1853, and 1955, a cholera epidemic called “Cholera Morbo” struck the whole country of Spain. Nearby all its towns suffered from the rueful effects of the dreadful malady. The natives of Osa de la Vega prayed and made devotions to the Divino Rostro to protect them from the epidemic. After the cholera epidemic had passed, to the surprise of many, no one in the village died or was stricken with the cholera. This made the faith of the people and their devotion to the Divino Rostro grow much stronger. This also began the spread of devotion in other parts of the country.

The devotion to the Divino Rostro in Naga City began during the tenure of Bishop Casimiro Herrera. In 1882, a cholera similar to the one in Spain in 1834 broke out in Manila.

The Vicar General at that time of the Diocese of Nueva Caceres was a certain Fr. Pedro De la Torre who was a native of Osa de la Vega and a devotee of the Divino Rostro. He had with him a copy of the Divino Rostro being venerated in his hometown. Recalling what had happened in Spain, he requested Bishop Herrera to enshrine the holy picture at the cathedral where the people could venerate it for the whole duration of the epidemic. People flocked the church imploring divine intercession that they be spared from the deadly cholera. The bishop also ordered that the intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia be sought. And so on August 26, 1882, the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia was brought to the Cathedral. That was the first time that the Bikolanos prayed to Our Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro together in one place. That was also the beginning of a tradition that continues up to the present when, during the Traslacion, both images are borne to the Cathedral.

When the dreaded disease was dispelled our people were spared from it. In the thanksgiving, the hierarchy and the people promised to celebrate the feast of the Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Peñafrancia together. And so when the image of Ina was brought back to her shrine in that same year, the image of the Divino Rostro was also brought together with the former to her shrine.

To make it easier for the devotees to give vent to their special devotion to the Divino Rostro, Father de laTorre decided to donate the picture to the Santuario de Peñafrancia. The chaplain, with approval of the bishop, placed it at the gospel side of the altar. That is the same place that the Divino Rostro occupies today in the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peña de Francia.

When the wooded frame of the miraculous image became old and deteriorated, Doña Fabiana Arejola Vda. De Reyes, then president of the Peñafrancia Association, donated a silver frame ordered from the famous Zamora Brothers. Unfortunately, the silver plates of the frame were stolen in 1976.

She ordered the construction of a beautiful palanquin or andas which until today is being used during procession.

Source: Penafrancia Basilica Minore
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