Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Santa Rita

Long before there was a post-war village we call Santa Rita, with Our Lady of Guadalupe as its patroness, this originally Mexican veneration was brought to Guam with Blessed Diego in 1668.

Marianas history always has to keep in mind its long connection with Mexico.  The Spanish government ruled the Marianas through Mexico for many years, and priests, soldiers and others came to the Marianas via Mexico on the galleons that sailed from Acapulco to Manila.

The Acapulco-Manila Galleon Route conveniently stopped by the Marianas almost every year

As a matter of fact, Sanvitores came to Guam via Mexico both times; the first, in 1662 when he first saw the Ladrones, as they were called then, and then in 1668 when he came back to live and die here, changing the name of the islands to the Marianas.

It was in Mexico that Sanvitores also raised some more money for the Marianas mission and recruited priests and soldiers to protect them.

He brought the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Marianas from the very start, and a church in northern Guam, now extinct, called Ayraan or Ayran (could that actually be Hila'an?) was dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe from the days of Sanvitores.  Besides that, there was a church in Sungharon, Tinian built under the same patroness, and a chapel at the Jesuit school in Hagåtña, the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán, had a chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Many Mexican soldiers and mission helpers came to the Marianas and it was only smart of Sanvitores to keep the Guadalupe veneration prominent in a mission with so many Mexicans.

Later, the village of Pago had a church dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  When that village was abandoned after earthquakes and the 1856 smallpox epidemic, Sumay inherited that patroness.  When Sumay was closed by the U.S. Navy as a civilian settlement, the people moved to Santa Rita and kept their original patroness.

You know you're Chamorro when....

You say Guat - da - lu - pe for Guadalupe.

Chamorro nicknames for women with this name are Lupe and Pupe.

The Oktåba

A few years prior to the reforms of Vatican II, the Church had many octaves (octava in Spanish, oktåba in Chamorro).  These were periods of eight days (thus octo, the Latin word for "eight") during which an important church feast was celebrated for an extended time. The Church's new calendar still has octaves, but fewer than in the past.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8 used to have its own oktåba in the old calendar.  The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, falls within that period, so Sumay/Santa Rita people refer to their patronal feast as the Oktåba.

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