Feast of Our Lady of Piat
The Feast of Our Lady of Piat is annually celebrated on the 2nd of July in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, to honor Cagayan's patroness. The highlight of the event is the procession featuring the image of the Virgin Mary, more popularly known in the province as Our Lady Piat.
Our Lady of Piat is known by several names. She was named "Queen of Heaven and Earth" on 20 June 1954 in a ceremony led by Papal Delegate Egidio Vagnozzi. She is also called "Yena Tam Ngamin" (Mother of us all) by the Ibanag and "Apo Baket" (Grand Matriarch) by the native Ilocanos of Piat, Cagayan.
The image of Our Lady of Piat is one of the oldest Marian images in the Philippines. In his book Historia de Cagayan, Father Julian Malumbres claims that the image was made by a Portuguese sculptor in Macau, China in 1600. Dominican priests brought the image to Manila in 1604. From Manila, the image traveled hundreds of kilometers to Piat before it was transported to Tuguegarao. It was returned to Piat years later.
Our Lady of Piat now rests at the Basilica Minore de Piat in Piat, Cagayan (about 45 minutes away from Tuguegarao City). It was declared a shrine on 22 June 1999 by the Vatican. Thousands of Marian devotees flock to the Basilica each year hoping to witness a miracle or become a receiver of it. Some of the miracles attributed to the image are:
- A native/Indio was crossing a river near Ermita when a crocodile caught him. He recited the prayer for the Lady of Piat and the crocodile let him loose. He proceeded to the church afterwards and thanked the Lady of Piat for saving him.
- Between 1716 and 1733, a great draught dried up the esteros of Malaueg. The people asked the Lady of Piat for rain and she gave it to them. Devotees said that this kind of miracle has happened not only once but several times.
- A little boy became insane after he fell from the roof of their house. His mother brought him to the Lady of Piat, lighted candles, and heard mass for him. He soon recovered his sanity.
The Feast of Our Lady of Piat attracts thousands of Marian devotees and pilgrims every year. The Cagayan North Convention Visitors Bureau (CNCVB), a non-profit alliance of business owners in the province, the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao work hand in hand to plan and coordinate the different activities for the festival.
Part of the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Piat is the Marian Voyage of Peace, which starts in June, weeks ahead of the actual feast day. The voyage retraces the steps that the Dominican fathers took in bringing the miraculous image to Cagayan, starting in Aparri and passing through the towns of Camalaniugan, Lal-Lo, Gattaran, Alcala, Amulung, and Iguig before culminating in Tuguegarao City.
In 2009, eight other images of the Blessed Virgin Mary from different churches in Northern Luzon joined Our Lady of Piat in its Marian Voyage of Peace. These include Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Malolos, Bulacan, Our Lady of Manaoag from Pangasinan, and Our Lady of Charity from Agoo, La Union. These images were made available for adoration in ten churches in Cagayan which date back to the Spanish occupation.
Other activities during the Feast of Our Lady of Piat include medical missions, museum exhibits, and a street dancing competition, aside from novenas and masses. These activities bring thousands of domestic and foreign tourists to Tuguegarao each year. Tourism officials say that the number of tourists to Cagayan rises by ten to twenty percent during the Feast of Our Lady of Piat.
- Cagayanos honor Our Lady of Piat.
- Marian devotees flock to Cagayan Valley.
- Pilgrimage to shrine in Cagayan Valley.