STA. MARIA, Ilocos Sur, Aug. 17 (PIA) -- Thousands of Catholic devotees, visitors, residents, and tourists have participated in the successful launching of the first Marian Festival in Ilocos Sur.
The local government unit (LGU) of Sta. Maria in collaboration with the historic Sta. Maria Church initiated the festival in connection to the celebration of the annual feast day of Our Lady of the Assumption every 15th day of August.
"We launched the first Marian Festival, in partnership with the management of the historic Sta. Maria Church, because we aim to make our town as the center of Marian devotion in the country," said Sta. Maria town Mayor Brigido Camarillo Jr.
Various highlights of the festival were conducted on August 6-15.
The festival opened with a novena prayer and a contest on poster making with the image of Saint Mary as a theme.
A fun bike with Mary happened on August 10 participated by hundreds of local bikers, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of the late Colonel Salvador Reyes on August 11.
On August 14, a street dance with Saint Mary was conducted.
Then, on August 15, concelebrated masses officiated by clergies of Nueva Segovia led by Archbishop Marlo Peralta were held.
MARIAN PROCESSION. Catholic devotees join the procession and street dance with Mary on August 14, 2019 for the first Marian Festival in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. The local government unit of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur launches the festival with an aim to make the town as the center of Marian devotion in the country. (Photo courtesy of SBM Arlon Serdenia)
According to Camarillo, the concelebrated masses on the culmination day of the festival on Friday, August 16, and the conduct of the street dance with Mary on August 14 have drew the attention of thousands of visitors and devotees.
"The street dance with Mary was a procession participated by the residents holding a small image of Saint Mary," said Camarillo.
The mayor expressed his gratitude to the thousands of devotees, visitors, and residents, who graced the successful conduct of the first Marian Festival, despite the presence of occasional rain showers and an alleged terror threat by the suspected ISIS to the province.
"Thank you very much for your support of our newest festival, and we will prepare more exciting activities for the full-blown of our festival next year," said Camarillo.
The historic Santa Maria Church was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 11, 1993.
It is one of the existing four baroque churches of the Philippines that were built during the Spanish era.
The Santa Maria Church is an attraction to both tourists and Catholics in Ilocos Sur.
It is not only a reminiscent of the four centuries of Spanish domination of that area but also a unique structure with a diversified architectural design of bricks and mortar.
It was built on top of a hill not only as a lookout but as a religious center during the early administration of the region by both the friars and soldiers of Spain. (AMB/FGL, PIA 1)