Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Feast
February 02 is a special day to the Ilonggos, especially to those residing in Jaro.
The Feast of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Jaro is celebrated every 2nd of February of the year. Also known as Our Lady of the Candles and formally as Nuestra Señora de la Purificación y la Candelaria, is the Marian title and image venerated by Filipino Catholics. The image is enshrined on the balcony of Jaro Cathedral and is the patroness of the Jaro District in Iloilo City and the whole of Western Visayas.
Jaro is a district in Iloilo City and is the largest in terms of area and population. Once a separate city, Jaro was reincorporated in the 1940s during the American administration. Dubbed as ‘mestizo town’, Jaro is home to a number of prominent Spanish-Filipino families. Apart from that, the district is the ‘center of faith’ of Western Visayas due to the number of institutions founded by religious sects – the Seminario de San Vicente Ferrer, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles, the Jaro Cathedral and the Archdiocese of Jaro, Central Philippine University – Iloilo Mission Hospital, Jaro Evangelical Church, Jaro Adventist Center, and the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.
Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria
The devotion to the Candelaria of Jaro is derived from the original Virgin of Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles) enshrined in the Basilica of Candelaria in Canarias, Spain. The feast, in Iloilo, is celebrated with a Solemn Pontificial Mass presided by the Archbishop of Jaro.
Pope John Paul II personally performed a canonical coronation of the venerate image on February 21, 1981. It is the sole Marian image in Asia crowned by a pontiff in personam (by a papal saint).
The limestone figure was discovered during the 16th century by fishermen and the Bishop then declared that the image should be placed on Jaro Church. The statue depicts Mary and the Child Jesus with tapers in their right hands as a symbol of light and purification. Vested in gold cloth, the Child Jesus holds a ‘globus cruciger’ symbolizing Christ’s reign over the earth. The yearly tradition recounts the statue’s first appearance in 1587.
Highlights of Jaro Fiesta
A religious event following the Dinagyang (in January), the Jaro fiesta celebration is centered on the Pontificial Mass presided by the archbishop of Jaro in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. Other highlights include the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair, Coronation of the Jaro Fiesta Queen, and a procession participated by many. Devotees also flock Jaro grounds to attend mass and participate in fiesta activities.
The Archdiocese of Jaro
“The start of any history is always anchored in the love of God… a love that permeates and surrounds every moment of unfolding in temporal space here on earth. The act of looking back, grasping the present, and straining to the future, though distinct, is actually one fluid continuum; it is a singular movement of the heart fully conscious of its past, present, and future embraced by love.” – Most Rev. Midyphil Billiones, D.D., Clergy of the Archdiocese of Jaro, now Auxilliary Bishop of Cebu on the history of the archiodese.
“Our past is blessed, our present sanctified, our future is consecrated, and our mission continues,” excerpt from the Archdiocese of Jaro website on the country’s 500 years of Christianity.
The Archdiocese of Jaro is composed of the province of Iloilo and the province of Guimaras. The mainland portion occupies the southern and northeastern areas of Panay Island. Its borders are defined by the Diocese of San Jose de Antique in the west and the Archdiocese of Capiz in the north, with the Visayan Sea and Guimaras Strait in the east and the Panay Gulf and Iloilo Strait in the south and southeast. The Archdiocese has ninety-two (92) parishes, eighty-five of which are under the direction of the diocesan clergy, and six (6) under the direction of the religious priests. The Metropolitan Cathedral is located in Jaro.