Flores, from Spanish flores or "flowers," also known as Flores de Mayo (flowers of May), Flores de Maria (flowers of Mary) or alay (offering), may refer to the whole Flower Festival celebrated in the month of May in tribute to the Virgin Mary . The Santacruzan was a novena procession remembering St. Helena's mythical finding of the cross. St. Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great. According to legends, 300 years after the death of Christ, at the age of 75, she went to Calvary to conduct a search for the Cross. After some archeological diggings at the site of the Crucifixion, she unearthed three crosses. She tested each one by making a sick servant lie on all three. The cross where the servant recovered was identified as Christ's. St. Helena's feast day falls on August 8 but the anniversary of the finding of the Cross is on May 3rd, in the Philippines, this celebration took the form of the Mexican Santa Cruz de Mayo.
As another legend puts it, Constantine the Great, facing a battle against the Mighty Roman Emperor, Maxentius in the year 312 A.D. turned hopeless to the new Christian God for help. Constantine cast his eyes heavenwards and saw in the night sky a glowing sign of the cross with the words "In hoc signia vincit", meaning "By this sign thou shalt conquer". He adopted the Cross as his battle insignia with the words and forthwith went to defeat the Roman Army and entered Rome a victory, pledging his faith in Christianity.
In the Tagalog region, this custom and celebration started after the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and after the publication circa 1867 of Mariano Sevilla's translation of the devotional Flores de Maria or Mariquit na Bulaclac na sa Pagninilaynilay sa Buong Buan nang Mayo ay Inihahandog nang manga Devoto cay Maria Santisima (The Flowers of Mary or the Beautiful Flowers that in the Meditations During the Whole Month of May are Offered by Devotees to Mary the Holiest). A Santacruzan is a religious-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns and even small villages throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colorful May-time festivals in the Philippines which represent the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured as major sagalas and escorts. The festivity celebrates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena (Reina Elena) and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome, there was an enjoyable celebration for thanksgiving.
Nine days of prayer (a novena) in respect of the Holy Cross lead the Flores de Mayo or Santacruzan. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and has since become part of Filipino traditions recognized with youth, love and romance.
PHOTO OPZ with Elmer, Gibbster, Markiiboi
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, downtown Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines