THE TOWN HERO, HIS PRAYER AND HIS BREAD
The official municipal hero of Paete is neither a warrior nor a statesman. Mariano Cagahastian Madriņan was a woodcarver. In a Manila magazine article written by Eliseo M. Quesada in the late 1930s, Mariano Madriņan was described as a religious artist in the tradition of the icon painters of Western pre-renaissance period. According to Quesada, Madriņan was a pious man who prayed, fasted, and meditated as he worked on his craft. Madriņan's work was both his prayer and his bread. He was deeply devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Quesada also wrote:
In the year 1882, Mariano Madriņan received a diploma of award and the King Alfonso XII of Spain Medal of Honor for his Mater Dolorosa, a magnificent work of art which was exhibited at the International Exposition held in Amsterdam that year.
It was reported that Madriņan never got the medal because having come from the most remote colony of imperial Spain, the medal was confiscated by the Spanish government before it could reach him. And it was not exactly clear what happened to the original statue of Mater Dolorosa that won the award. Was it given as a gift to the Spanish throne? It might have well been, since that seemed to be the practice at that time. For example, the Las Pinas bamboo organ had a "twin" bamboo organ that was shipped to Spain and donated to the Spanish royal family. The same thing might have happened to the first Mater Dolorosa.
Fortunately, Mariano Madriņan did make an exact copy of "Mater Dolorosa" that remains in Paete and is the central point of interest in the Holy Thursday "salubong" procession there. This statue has movable parts with excellent articulation so that during the procession, it could be made to embrace the statue of Christ carrying His cross, look up to gaze at St. Veronica's veil (imprinted with the face of Christ) and bless her with the sign of the cross. The sculptor may not have received his gold medal prize, but his memory is imprinted on every Paetenian's heart as they watch the statue of the Mother of Sorrows "move" during the procession. For the Mater Dolorosa and St. Veronica (another "moving" statue) alone, Paete becomes a place of pilgrimage for those who want to celebrate Holy Week in the old Spanish tradition.
The statues of saints in Paete are privately owned and they are passed down from generation to generation of families. For every religious feast in Paete, there is an extended family that sponsors the novena and prepares the statue for a special Mass. (Our family has blessed to be the "recomadero" of the images of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.) As a result of this crowded calendar, there is almost a week-to-week celebration of the various feasts, where families get together to listen to music, eat, sing, and pray with the rest of the townspeople.
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