Wednesday, November 4, 2015

234. Santo Stories: SAN ROQUE of Bilibid Viejo, Quiapo

Bilibid Viejo in Quiapo takes pride in having the pilgrim saint, San Roque (St. Rich of Montpellier) as its titular patron. The resident’s devotion is centered on a small, wooden image of San Roque, the pilgrim saint of Montpellier, who ministered to victims of a plague, that he, too, caught. A dog came every day, bringing him bread for sustenance. An angel holds a scroll proclaiming his invocation against pestilences of all sorts.

The origin of this image is lost in history, but since Bilibid Viejo is just a walk away to Quiapo’s carving centers, it may be assumed that the image could have been commissioned from any of the talleres in Evangelista, Hidalgo, or even those in Sta. Cruz. The image is enshrined in a small corner chapel that was constructed way before the war.

The devotion to San Roque and its upkeep were assumed by a confraternity that was founded on 18 July 1926, with 16 pioneer members—Hermandad de San Roque. They actively propagated the faith by holding yearly fiesta activities, held in the first two weeks of August. There were daily sponsored masses, band contests, basketball competitions, movie screenings and musical jamborees. The fiesta is highlighted by a procession led by the image of the Sto. Niño, followed by their patron, San Roque, and then by the Virgin of Mount Carmel.

The San Roque fiesta is still being held in Quiapo, marked with rowdy street games. Not many people know that in the not so distant past, especially in the post-war years, the celebration of Bilibid Viejo’s patron had a more devout air, with many groups like “Sub-Comite de Damas, Señoritas y Soletros”, “Los Companeros” (a band of musicians that played during the fiesta) and Bilvie Youth Club lending their hands to promote the devotion though organized pilgrimages, excursions to churches and the promotion of scaramentals through San Roque medals.

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