Thursday, April 12, 2018

CEBU APPROVES : NOBENAN PROMESA


HAGÅTÑA CHURCH
in the early 1800s

In 1825 and again in 1834 the island of Guam experienced a series of strong earthquakes. It must have been quite strong and quite frightening because the leading citizens of Hagåtña, with the Spanish Governor's endorsement, made a promise to celebrate every year a novena of Solemn Masses, with a sermon and procession on the last day.

This meant nine straight days of sung Mass. On the ninth and final day, the priest had to preach a sermon and then the people of Hagåtña would march and pray in procession through the streets of the city. These things involved some cost, such as paying the priest his stipend, buying candles and so on. The city government and leading citizens thought this novena so important that they promised to shoulder those costs themselves. Not only were the people living in the city proper involved, but also those of the surrounding villages (pueblos inmediatos) such as Aniguak, Mongmong, Sinajaña, Asan and Tepungan.

This novena was called by the people the nobenan promesa, the "novena of the promise" and its opening day was the Saturday before the 2nd Sunday after Easter and it ended on the 3rd Sunday of Easter every year. In one year, in 1900, it was not celebrated because the American Naval Governor at the time was very much opposed to the Spanish and Catholic elements of Guam life and he did not allow Catholic processions in the public streets. This is why, the people said, there was a devastating typhoon in November of that year, as God's punishment for breaking the promise. Today this nobena is kept by a handful of older people.


In the Chamorro Debosionårio or Prayer Book, the 3rd Sunday of Easter is shown as the Sunday of the Promesa, when the Nobenan Promesa ended


To add even greater weight to the seriousness of this promise, the approval of the highest church authority over the Marianas at the time, the Bishop of Cebu in the Philippines, was sought. The document from the Bishop of Cebu granting this approval still exists. Here is the text in English and then the original Spanish :




We, Sir Friar Santos Gómez Marañón of the Sacred Order of Saint Augustine, by the grace of God and of the Holy Apostolic See, bishop of the diocese of Cebu, of the Council of His Majesty, etc etc.

In view of the request which the Reverend Father Parish Priest of San Ignacio of Agaña Friar Bernardo Esteves del Rosario has made to us in a letter of June 6, 1834 that we deign to approve the vow and promise, which according to the accompanying testimony signed by the current Governor Sir Francisco Villalobos, the principal mayors and the other residents of that city and surrounding villages made to celebrate yearly at their cost and responsibility a novena of Solemn Masses with sermon and procession on the last day in honor of the Most Pure Conception of the Most Holy Mary, Patroness of those islands, that through the powerful intercession of the mother of God they reach the Divine Mercy to become free in the future from the terrible and repeated earthquakes which they suffered on April 14, 1825 and for a space of some consecutive days and which they resumed to experience on April 10 and May 4, 1834 and taking note that the mentioned individuals voluntarily oblige themselves to contribute to the necessary expenses for said solemn event each year, we come to accede to the petition and request of the mentioned Parish Priest, approving the vow made by the principal mayors and residents of San Ignacio of Agaña and its surrounding villages and declaring as their Patroness for the earthquakes the Most Pure Conception of the Most Holy Mary and to concede in what pertains to us that they may celebrate yearly the novena of Solemn Masses with sermon and procession on the last day under the formalities and conditions which they have spontaneously obligated themselves to as a perpetual witness of their vow the Lord Governor with the Reverend Father Parish Priest have signed on May 4 of the same year 1834. And for the greater spiritual benefit of all the faithful residents of that city and its surrounding villages to concede forty days of indulgences for every Mass heard in that novena, another forty days for the sermon and another forty for the procession. Given in our episcopal palace in the City of Cebu, signed by Us, and authenticated by our secretary signed below on February 10 in the year 1835.

Friar Santos, Bishop

Esteban Meneses, Secretary


SPANISH ORIGINAL

Nos, Don Fray Santos Gómez Marañón del Sagrado Orden de San Agustín, por la gracia de Dios y de la Santa Sede Apostólica, obispo de la diócesis de Cebú, del Consejo de Su Majestad, etc etc.

En vista de la solicitud que el Reverendo Padre Cura Pårroco de San Ignacio de Agaña Fray Bernardo Esteves del Rosario nos ha hecho en carta de seis de junio de mil ochocientos treinta y cuatro para que nos dignasemos aprobar el voto y promesa que según el testimonio que acompaña firmado por el actual Gobernador Don Francisco Villalobos, hicieron los gobernadorcillos principales y demás moradores de aquella ciudad y pueblos inmediatos de celebrar anualmente a su costa y mención un novenario de Misas Solemnes con sermón y procesión al último día en honor de la Purísima Concepción de María Santísima, Patrona de aquellas islas, que mediante la poderosa intercesión de la madre de Dios alcanzen de la Divina Misericordia el que sean libres en lo sucesivo de los terribles y repetidos terremotos que sufrieron el día catorce de abril de mil ochocientos veinticinco y por espacio de algunos días consecutivos y que se volvieron a experimentar el diez de abril y el cuatro de mayo de mil ochocientos treinta y cuatro y en atención a que voluntariamente se obligan los expresados individuos a contribuir con los gastos necesarios para dicha función solemne en cada año, venimos en acceder a la petición y súplica del expresado Cura Párroco aprobando el voto que hicieron los gobernadorcillos principales y moradores de San Ignacio de Agaña y sus pueblos inmediatos y declarando por su Patrona por los terremotos la Purísima Concepción de María Santísima y concedernos por lo que toca a nuestra para el que puedan celebrar anualmente el novenario de Misas Solemnes con sermón y procesión al último día bajo las formalidades y condiciones a que se ha obligado expontaneamente cuando para testimonio perpetuo de su voto lo firmaron con el Señor Gobernador y con el Reverendo Padre Cura Párroco en cuatro de mayo del mismo año de mil ochocientos treinta y cuatro. Y para mayor provecho espiritual de todos los fieles moradores de dicha ciudad y sus pueblos inmediatos concedernos cuarenta días de indulgencias por cada Misa que oyeren del dicho novenario, otros cuarenta días por el sermón, y otros cuarenta por la procesión. Dadas en nuestro palacio episcopal de la Ciudad de Cebú, firmadas de Nos, y refrendadas por nuestro infrascrito secretario a diez de febrero de mil ochocientos treinta y cinco años.

Fray Santos, obispo

Esteban Meneses, secretario



Santos Gómez Marañón, OSA
Bishop of Cebu who granted permission for the Nobenan Promesa in Hagåtña

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