Sunday, February 5, 2012


This weekend is the fiesta of the small community of Maina.

The village name - ma ina - means "to illuminate, enlighten, shed light on."  Why this area, among the hills and valleys near Hagåtña, should be so-called, no one knows.

What is certain is that the parish was named after the village, and not the other way around.  There was no parish in Maina until many years after the war.  When they decided to build a chapel and give it a name, they chose a patroness inspired by the Chamorro village name.

Years ago, there was a church ceremony practiced much more than today.  It was called the "Churching of Women."  A woman, sometime after giving birth, would come to church, with a candle, to give thanks to God for a successful delivery and to be blessed.  The use of a candle is a connection with the Chamorro word ma ina - "to illuminate."

The ceremony recalls the time Mary brought the Child Jesus to the Temple for present Him to God and to purify herself after childbirth.  The Jewish custom was to do this, bringing a candle.  In Spain, Our Lady under this title became known as Candelaria.  In English, she would be called Our Lady of the Purification.

Maina's Patroness - La Candelaria
Holding a candle, the Child Jesus shows us the meaning of ma ina

Maina was not the only place women were churched after childbirth, but the name of the village is connected to that religious ceremony.


Besides Our Blessed Lady, Maina is also known for a different kind of lady - the White Lady.  As far as I can tell, this is a new legend developed after the war.  It doesn't go back that far, then.  It probably originated in people's imaginations as a reaction to the scary-looking valley and bridge on the road that connects Maina with Agaña Heights.  Different versions of the myth exist, but they all center on the ghost of a woman who appears at night on this bridge.  I think it may not be purely coincidental that this ghost is a white lady, when the area's Chamorro name and its Catholic patroness , La Candelaria, all bring the "light" to mind.  Maybe it sparked the imagination.

But he don't believe...

Agapito is a life-long resident of Maina.  He says his mother saw spirits, but not at the White Lady Bridge.  As far as he's concerned, there is no White Lady.  He even says some people he knows light candles down there at night to give drivers a thrill at night.  I jokingly add that maybe the White Lady legend helps boost tourism to the village.


The woman holds a candle (ma ina) and is lead by the priest to the altar for a blessing.

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