Monday, July 22, 2013
157. Retro-Santo: SAN PASCUAL BAYLON of Obando
The town of Obando in Bulacan is famed for its trio of fertility saints: Our Lady of Salambao, Sta. Clara, and San Pascual Baylon. For centuries, childless couples from all over made pilgrimages to this town to ask for intercession from these saints, so that they may be blesses with children. This they do, in the form of dancing—taken from San Pascual’s last name “Bailon”, purportedly derived from the Spanish verb, “bailar”, meaning “to dance”.
The devotion to San Pascual, like Sta. Clara, was introduced by Franciscans when they arrived in the country in the 18th century. Born in Aragon in 1540, this pious Spaniard was a shepherd before he became a Franciscan lay brother and mystic known for his devotion to the Eucharist.
Serving his fellow Franciscans with all humility, San Pascual was assigned kitchen duties, hence, he became a popular patron of the kitchen. In religious art he is shown dressed in the brown robes of a Franciscan, kneeling in a kitchen while in rapt contemplation of the Eucharistic host suspended mid-air in a monstrance.
The story of how he came to be invoked against infertility began when a barren couple from Hagonoy met a crab vendor who advised them to go to the church of Obando and participate in the parish’s Maytime dance ritual. Coming face to face with the image of San Pascual enshrined in the church, they quickly realized that the crab vendor shared the same visage, leading them to conclude that they had met a saint. The wife soon conceived and bore a male baby. The cult spread as San Pascual was recognized as the patron saint of childless couples.
San Pascual Baylon Parish (Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Salambao) is under the administration of the Catholic Diocese of Malolos.