ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / September 20) – Like last year, this city launched its feast of Saint Michael the Archangel on Monday with far fewer people present, far from the pre-pandemic era when the cathedral could not accommodate the one huge crowd.
Every September 20, or nine days before the feast of St. Michael, the Iliganons flocked to the cathedral named after their patron saint for the “Pagpakanaug”, the rites during which the statue of San Miguel would be lowered from its usual pedestal. and placed in a platform closer to the people.
Usually thousands of people filled St. Michael’s Cathedral, from the church grounds to the altar, the people drenched in sweat as the devotees chanted âViva Senyor! Long live Senyor San Miguel! â
But with Iligan under general community quarantine with its surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and the entry of the Delta variant, attendance inside churches has been limited to 30% of capacity, as the prescribes Executive Decree No. 217 of Mayor Celso Regencia signed on September 7.
As of Monday, there had been 4,463 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iligan, including 631 considered active, compared to 337 deaths, representing a case fatality rate of 7.55%, which is well above the national average of 1, 55%.
Major Zanrex Panolong, spokesperson for the Iligan City Police Station, said the local church and the Philippine National Police have agreed to follow minimum health protocols. Those without masks and shields were not allowed to enter the cathedral, the police official said.
He said police were deployed to secure the perimeter of the cathedral while the road in front of the church, part of Quezon Avenue (the busiest street in Iligan), was temporarily closed to all types. vehicles.
Bishop JosÃ© Rapadas III presided over the Holy Mass at 7 am, followed by the religious ritual of âPagpakanaugâ.
Six devout worshipers dressed in red overalls and face masks carried the statue from the pedestal to the platform surrounded by nine large candles, flowers with a Bible underneath and was tied with a red cord tied to silver poles .
For the bishop, “the lowering of the image of Saint Michael the Archangel from its usual place to the facade of the altar symbolizes humility”.
He said the Diocese of Iligan will begin its nine-day novena in honor of Saint Michael at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Among those in the crowd was Lourdes Alivio, 59, of Barangay Hinaplanon, who wore his images of San Miguel and Santo NiÃ±o at 18. âThey are the source of our strength, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,â she said in the vernacular.
Alivio is yet to be vaccinated next week. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)