Sunday, February 10, 2013


To understand the devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes in Yigo, one has to understand the Spanish Capuchins who worked on Guam from 1901 till 1941.

The majority of these friars were from Navarra in the north of Spain.  Some of them came from towns not a day's journey to the French border.  The area in France where Lourdes is was, at one time, part of the Kingdom of Navarra.  So you can understand why these Spanish Capuchins from Navarra identified strongly with Lourdes.

Before the Spanish Capuchins came to Guam in 1901, they had already been in Manila since 1886.  There, in the old part of Manila called Intramuros, they built a chapel and a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes.  This shrine became very popular among the people.

The Pre-War Capuchin Church and Shrine of Lourdes 
Intramuros, Manila

When the famous Capuchin Påle' Román de Vera came to Guam in 1915, he had already spent some years in Manila.  By the early 1920s, Yigo was expanding in population as more Hagåtña people moved up there to ranch.  A chapel was needed there for monthly Masses.  It was given Our Lady of Lourdes for its patron, a devotion strongly held by the Capuchins of Navarra like Påle' Román.  He composed a Chamorro hymn to her, using a Spanish melody.

The Chamorro Hymn to Our Lady of Lourdes

Matuna hao O Bithen de Lutdes / inangokon i taotao-mo
(You are blessed, O Virgin of Lourdes / the hope of your people)
i umågang hao guse' un po'lo / gi mames na korason-mo.
(quickly place those who call on you / within your sweet heart.)

Tayuyute ham gi me'nan Jesus / i un guaiya na patgon-mo
(Pray to us before Jesus / your beloved child)
Nåna lao! Nåna! Cha'-mo didingo / ini i famagu'on-mo.
(Oh my!  Mother! Dare not abandon / these your children.)

Ayo as Bernadita Subiru / i lumi'e i lago'-mo
(She, Bernadette Soubirous / who saw your tears)
ya ha hungok nina' sen pinite / i na' tanges na fino'-mo.
(and who heard most sorrowfully / your tearful words.)

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