Our Lady of Peñafrancia

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Our Lady of Peñafrancia was the title given to our Blessed Virgin Mary upon the discovery of an image of Our Lady in Peña de Francia.



The Peñafrancia started when a French Friar, Simon Roland found an icon believed to have been buried since 711 A.D., after a long search. Mary's image was excavated in a cave on a rocky mountain of Salamanca, Spain. Penafrancia is a counterpoint of Pena de Francia, designating the place where the precious icon was found, hence the name of Our Lady; Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia. Simon Roland (Simon Vela) and companions were eyewitnesses to instant miracles attributed to Our Lady. In 1434 he started constructing a mountain shrine for the image but was only finished after his death in 1438.

To settle property ownership issues that came up over the shrine, King John II given the custody of the religious place to the Spanish Dominican Order. The Dominican priests spread the advocacy to Our Lady of Peñafrancia throughout the world which led to the coming of the image to the Philippines.

Peñafrancia de Manila

Inang Mahal, Birhen ng mga Dukha, is how the residents of Metro Manila's Paco-San Andres-Singalong-Pandacan districts call her. The image is enshrined in Our Lady of Peñafrancia Parish in Paco, Manila.

Description of the Image

The image was painted on a thick canvas. An oval aureole surrounds the Madonna and Child who sit on a golden throne on top of a rocky peak depicting the image Simon Roland had seen in Peña de Francia, the Child is holding a globe, rests on the Mother's lap, his right hand is raised in benediction. A rosary was added to it after the image came to be known as Our Lady of the Rosary. To Our Lady's right side kneels Simon Roland(Simon Vela), his arms extended in prayer, the brown robe of the Franciscan Order draped over his body.

National Artist Fernando Amorsolo has done some restoration on the painting in 1950s. The image was canonically crowned on November 10, 1985 by Jaime Cardinal Sin at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila. A dance was performed in her honor which gave birth to an annual Tatarin Dance Festival which is celebrated every second Sunday of November in commemoration of the canonical coronation.

Two Popular Versions of the Origin of Peñafrancia de Manila

The first version, according to the oral tradition said that the image was found along the banks of the Pasig River by a group of farmers and fishermen on May 14, 1621. The people brought the image to Candelaria Church in Paco, Manila but the image would vanish from time to time and would be recovered on the same spot where it was first found. The people decided to build a visitain the place where Our Lady favored to be placed. It became the forerunner of the Paco Church.

Another version said that it was the Covarrubias clan who brought the image here in the Philippines from Salamanca, Spain in the 17th century to spread the devotion to Our Lady. A son, Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, was responsible for the transportation of the image to the Bicol Region where he became the Parish Priest of Nueva Caceres.

Peñafrancia de Naga

Ina, is the Mother of Bicolandia, whose Basilica is flocked by pilgrims during its feast day which is celebrated on the third Saturday of September. The feast day is preceded by a novena, nine days of prayer, in honor of Our Lady. On the first day, the image of the Virgin, a replica of the Madonna in Peñafrancia, Spain, is brought from its shrine to the Naga Cathedral where the novena is held. On the last day, the image is returned to her shrine following the Naga River route. The colorful evening procession is lit by thousands of candles from devotees in boats escorting the image. When the barge reaches its destination, the devotees shout "Viva la Virgen" (Long live the Virgin!) and the image is brought back in a procession to the cathedral.

The famous Madonna is believed to have miraculous powers. On her feast day, pilgrims gather at her shrine to pay her homage for favors received.


  • Barcelona, Mary Anne. Ynang Maria: A Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines. Edited by Consuelo B. Estepa, P.D. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2004.



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