Guam – In the Catholic Faith December 8th is known as the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion but here on Guam the date and the feast holds an even deeper meaning. Today faithful Catholics attended several masses held throughout the day and marched in droves in a time honored tradition known as the procession.
Catholics worldwide celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion on December 8th. It’s a feast that celebrates the Immaculate Concepcion of the blessed Virgin Mary. On Guam the feast holds an even deeper significance for the Virgin Mary or Santa Marian Kamalen is the patron saint of Guam. In fact the island has a 300 year old statue of Santa Marian Kamalen that is both shrouded in legend and greatly revered. Every year on December 8th the faithful attend mass and march in a procession around Hagatna.
There are various legends as to the statue’s origin. According to guampedia.com one of the legends has it that a fisherman in Malesso found the statue floating on two gold spotted crabs each bearing a lighted candled.
The fisherman was a member of the native militia and took the statue to the main barracks in Hagatna. The barracks were still under construction so the statue was placed in a tool shed which is called a camarin in Spanish and pronounced Kamalen in Chamorro. Thus the statue of the Virgin Mary got named Our Lady of Camarin or Santa Maria Kamalen.
We caught up with some of the faithful who attended mass today in honor of Guam’s patron saint. “Today means getting everybody out to pray whether you dress like this or what we’re keeping our island safe, said Martha Busbey.
In fact the faithful believe that this patron saint is the protector of Guam. Many Catholics seek her protection from earthquakes typhoons and other natural disasters. “Our island is predominantly catholic it’s part of our culture our custom within our culture so it’s always been celebrated and look what happened when the senators tried to do away with December 8th,” said Ike Pangelinan.
In fact it is so intertwined with Guam’s culture that it is a government holiday and when GovGuam decided to do away with the holiday in 2002, the island was hit by what was probably it’s most destructive typhoon to date, typhoon Pongsona. Many Catholics believe it was a sign that God and the Virgin Mary were displeased with the removal of the Santa Marian Kamalen holiday. “It’s showing us… I’m a firm believer in the almighty in the mother and Santa Marian Kamalen,” said Pangelinan adding, “It’s part of our life our heritage the Roman Catholic religion the procession nai it’s a tradition on the island the honoring of our Santa Marian Kamalen nai.”
Today’s mass and procession began at four pm and has just about wrapped up by now so the roads around the Hagatna cathedral should be opening up and traffic should be clearing up soon.