Saturday, October 8, 2011


This weekend there will be parties in Humåtak celebrating its patronal feast of San Dionisio.

The village, of course, is an ancient one.  Tradition has it that Magellan landed here in 1521 and replenished his ships with water and food.  The Chamorros in turn took things from his ships and Magellan burned down some of the houses of the village and took off.

By the time Sanvitores was in the Marianas, Humåtak was called San Antonio by the Spaniards and was the usual bay used by visiting ships.  In 1680 (eight years after Sanvitores' death), the Jesuits started a church in Humåtak, dedicated to San Dionisio Areopagita, a favorite devotion of the Duchess of Aveiro, a major benefactor of the Marianas mission.

Who was San Dionisio?  He was Greek; an official of the Areopagus, a court in Athens.  In the Book of Acts it is recorded that he was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Saint Paul.  He later became the second bishop of Athens.  His name in Latin is Dionysius; in French Denis and in English Dennis.

From the Chamorro Hymn to San Dionisio

Gi siudå giya Atenas / ma fanå'gue i saina-ta;
an un hungok si San Pablo / i anti-mo gef magmåta.
Ennao mina' un sen yute' / i linachen hinengge-mo.

(In the City of Athens / our patron was taught;
when you heard Saint Paul / your soul was truly awakened.
That is why you truly abandoned / your erroneous beliefs.)

Like many early Christians, San Dionisio lost his head during the persecutions of the Christians.

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