Around 600, mainly Filipino pilgrims, from all over East Anglia, Lincolnshire, and Hertfordshire took over the Broads Tours fleet for the Fluvial Procession (river cruise) followed by a Mass in the grounds of St Helen’s Catholic Church in Hoveton on September 17.
Our Lady is the Patron of the Bicol region in the Philippines, and venerated as a protector from typhoons: in a stormy week the weather was very kind to us! There was a bit of a shower before the Mass started but “no matter what the rain pilgrims remain”.
The Procession from the boats to the church with the pilgrims singing and reciting the Rosary is one of the largest public demonstrations of the Christian faith in East Anglia, and never fails to stop Sunday shoppers in their tracks.
This year the head of the Procession was arriving at St Helen’s just before the tail of it had crossed the bridge.
Tribu Bicolandia, the organisers of the Pilgrimage, especially wish to thank St Helen’s Catholic Church, the Police, the pilgrims (from Louth, Lincoln, Boston, King’s Lynn, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Stevenage, Colchester, Fleggburgh, Gorleston, North Walsham, Wells next-on sea and Norwich) and local residents for making this very special and much-loved event possible each year.
It also marked a ‘first’ for St Helen’s in being the very first ‘open air’ Mass celebrated there. It was conducted by Fr Claro Conde V Conde, a Filipino priest from the Diocese of Portsmouth, concelebrated by Rev Bill Dimelow of Our Lady & St Walstan’s Church where the Our Lady of Peñafrancia resides in Norwich.
Next year’s celebration will be on September 16.
Pictured above is part of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia fiesta, taken by Maria Veloso-Taylor.
A full picture gallery and video of the event can be seen on the Facebook page of Our Lady of Peñafrancia Devotees Diocese of East Anglia.