Multitude join procession, mass in honor of La Virgen PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 October 2013 13:49

Despite the inclement weather and security challenges, a multitude of people joined the grand procession from the Metropolitan Cathedral in La Purisima to the Fort Pilar Shrine in Rio Hondo in celebration of the feast day of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar, yesterday, October 12.

Confetti and flowers rained as the image of the Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar passed through City Hall yesterday afternoon. Marian pieces sang by the Zamboanga Hermosa Chorale at the City Hall balcony filled the background.

At the Fort Pilar Shrine, flowers also rained as the Lady of the Pilar image entered the gate, courtesy of the Philippine Air Force and the Western Mindanao Command.

Mayor Beng Climaco, District I Cong. Celso Lobregat and other city officials together with religious leaders led devotees in marching the streets in prayers.  The grand procession was culminated with the Pontifical mass at the Shrine officiated by Bishop Angelito Lampon.

The religious activities kicked off with the mañanita mass at 4:30am at the Metropolitan Cathedral followed by at 6am, 8am, 10am and 12:15.

Bearing rosaries, images of the La Virgen del Pilar and other religious icons, the devotees braved the inclement weather and other challenges illustrating their unceasing devotion and affection to the patron saint.

The feast day celebration yesterday was preceded by the 9-day novena masses religiously attended by thousands of devotees coming from all corners of the city amidst unstable weather condition and security challenges.

Mayor Climaco has hailed Zamboangueños for their unceasing faith to the Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar.  “I urge our people to continue reverence to the La Virgen del Pilar to always lead us to Jesus. Our steadfast devotion to the Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar all through the years has been our beacon of hope amidst the trials and adversities. No matter how intricate and complicated the challenges are—we, the good, will always prevail.”

Despite the odds, Mayor Climaco observed that the Fiesta Pilar is observed with great zeal and fervour and devotion to the La Virgen del Pilar.

It was the first time in 33 days that a mass was held at the Fort Pilar Shrine. Since October 5, the Shrine was opened from 7am to 5pm but only for private devotions. The shrine is located in the conflict area where government forces fought it out with MNLF rebels who infiltrated some coastal barangays last September 9.

In previous years, the Fiesta Pilar celebration was ushered in by a weeklong festival that included social events such as street dance competition, regatta, chabacano song festival, Wow Sardinas, agricultural trade fair and many more. It was also the time when national conventions were held in the city.

The Fort Pilar or Real Fuerza de Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zaragoza in Spanish, is a 17th century military defense fortress built by the Spanish colonial government. It is  now an outdoor Roman Catholic Marian shrine and a museum and a symbol of the city’s cultural heritage. — Sheila Covarrubias