Manila’s Grand Marian Procession that is held every December has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were informed by the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception about the cancellation,” said Father Reginald Malicdem, rector of the Manila Cathedral.
“I do not know if the Confraternity has other plans. All they said was there will be no procession,” added the priest.
Every year, more than a hundred images of the Blessed Virgin Mary are paraded around the old city of Manila in the “Grand Marian Procession” ahead of the “Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception” celebration on Dec. 8.
The procession of beautifully and elaborately-adorned carriages bearing the images of the Blessed Virgin Mary starts at four o’clock in the afternoon in front of Manila Cathedral and slowly winds its way through the streets of the Walled City.
Held every first Sunday of December, thousands of Marian devotees, holding lighted candles and rosaries, take part in the religious procession, which is considered to be the largest and grandest of its kind in the country.
In an announcement, the Confraternity said they, together with the Intramuros Administration, have decided to cancel the 41st Intramuros Grand Marian Procession scheduled on Dec. 6, 2020.
“[This is to] adhere to the government’s policies in controlling the spread of the coronavirus that is affecting our country and the world,” read the announcement posted on social media.
“The health and safety of everybody must be considered,” it added.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated Dec. 8, but Filipinos traditionally start the festivity on the first Sunday of December when hundreds of images of the Virgin Mary are paraded inside the old walled city of Manila.
Organized by the Confradia de la Immaculada Concepcion, the religious procession features images of the Blessed Mother from different parts of the country.
A military brass marching band accompanies the procession of devotees who are mostly dressed in white as they parade around the old walled city of Intramuros.
The first Marian procession, held in Manila on Dec. 8, 1619, lasted for 15 days.
During the Spanish colonial rule that lasted for 300 years, the annual procession, which was supposed to promote catechism, varied between the days when the procession was held.
Today, the procession has become a showcase of the most prominent Marian images in the country.
The Intramuros Administration and the Confraternity have organized the annual festivity since 1980 with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.