Chapter 38: - Page 3 of 4

The Procession

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

But the old man suspended his apostrophe at the approach of St. Francis. Didn’t I say so? he then went on, smiling sarcastically. This one rides on a ear, and, good Heavens, what a car! How many lights and how many glass lanterns! Never did I see you surrounded by so many luminaries, Giovanni Bernardone! [3] And what music! Other tunes were heard by your followers after your death! But, venerable and humble founder, if you were to come back to life now you would see only degenerate Eliases of Cortona, and if your followers should recognize you, they would put you in jail, and perhaps you would share the fate of Cesareus of Spyre.

After the music came a banner on which was pictured the same saint, but with seven wings, carried by the Tertiary Brethren dressed in guingón habits and praying in high, plaintive voices. Rather inexplicably, next came St. Mary Magdalene, a beautiful image with abundant hair, wearing a pañuelo of embroidered piña held by fingers covered with rings, and a silk gown decorated with gilt spangles. Lights and incense surrounded her while her glass tears reflected the colors of the Bengal lights, which, while giving a fantastic appearance to the procession, also made the saintly sinner weep now green, now red, now blue tears. The houses did not begin to light up until St. Francis was passing; St. John the Baptist did not enjoy this honor and passed hastily by as if ashamed to be the only one dressed in hides in such a crowd of folk covered with gold and jewels.

There goes our saint! exclaimed the daughter of the gobernadorcillo to her visitors. I’ve lent him all my rings, but that’s in order to get to heaven.

The candle-bearers stopped around the platform to listen to the loa and the blessed saints did the same; either they or their bearers wished to hear the verses. Those who were carrying St. John, tired of waiting, squatted down on their heels and agreed to set him on the ground.

The alguazil may scold! objected one of them.

Huh, in the sacristy they leave him in a corner among the cobwebs!

So St. John, once on the ground, became one of the townsfolk.

As the Magdalene set out the women joined the procession, only that instead of beginning with the children, as among the men, the old women came first and the girls filled up the lines to the car of the Virgin, behind which came the curate under his canopy. This practise they had from Padre Damaso, who said: To the Virgin the maidens and not the old women are pleasing! This statement had caused wry faces on the part of many saintly old ladies, but the Virgin did not change her tastes.

[3] The secular name of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order.—TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

may-kaya