During the month of May, the whole Philippines celebrate Flores de Mayo “Flowers of May”. It is a festival in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Santacruzan is a festivity to commemorate Queen Helena’s search of the Holy Cross. The legend tells us that Queen Helena at the old age of 75 and around 300 years after Christ had died on the cross had come in search of the Holy Cross at Calvary. She was able to discover three crosses and so she instructed one of her sick servants to lay on all three crosses and the one where the servant was miraculously healed was believed to be the Holy Cross. The anniversary of Queen Helena’s discovery of the cross is on May 3.
Santacruzan is a beauty pageant that is different from typical beauty pageants. It is also a procession but is different from the typical processions where the devotees parade the images of their patron saints. Santacruzan is a mixture of both. Santacruzan is held on the 9th night of the novena honoring the Holy Cross.
The procession is a colorful pageant and is arranged in order.
First in line is Methuselah. He is an old, bearded fellow that is riding a cart and busy toasting some sand grains in a pan over the warm fire. It’s a reminder that all the glitters will all end up as dust.
Second in line is Reyna Banderada “Queen Banderada”. She is a lady wearing a red gown and carries with her a yellow triangle flag. The introduction of Christianity is represented by her.
Third in line are the Aetas. The unconverted Filipinos are represented as the Aetas. It’s a representation of what the Filipinos were before the introduction of Christianity.
Fourth is Reyna Mora “Queen Mora”. She wears a muslim costume representing the dominant religion of the Philippines before the introduction of Christianity; the Muslim religion.
Reyna Fe is the next in line. She carries with her a cross as a symbol of the virtue of faith as the first theological virtue.
Sixth in line is Reyna Esperanza. She carries with her an anchor and she symbolizes the second theological virtue; the virtue of hope.
Following Reyna Esperanza is Reyna Caridad. She carries a red heart and symbolizes the third theological virtue; the virtue of love or charity.
Reyna Abogada is next and she carries with her a big book and she wears a black toga. She represents the defender of the oppressed and the poor.
After her, Reyna Sentenciada is next. She is joined by two Roman soldiers. Her hands are tied by a rope and she symbolizes the innocent people who have been wrongly accused.
Next is Reyna Justicia. She embodies in herself justice and thus she carries with her a weighing scale and sword.
Reyna Judith walks after Reyna Justicia. Judith of Pethulia saved her city from the people of Assyria. She had beheaded the vindictive holofens. The person representing Reyna Judith carries a sword in one hand and a head on the other.
Reyna Sheva is next. She carries with her a jewelry box. Queen Sheva visited King Solomon and she was fascinated by him with his great wisdom, riches and great power!
Reyna Ester carries a scepter. She intervened with King Xerxes just in time and she was able to spare her countrymen from death.
Samaritana is next. Samaritana is the woman who Jesus spoke with at the well. She is carrying a jug.
Veronica was the woman who came to Jesus to wipe His face. Veronica carries with her a bandana with the imprints of Jesus’ face.
The Tres Marias “the three Marys” are Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of Jesus Christ and Mary the mother of St. James. Magdala carries a perfume bottle. Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ carries with her a handkerchief. The mother of St. James carries with her a bottle of oil.
Then they are followed by the Marians. Eight girls wearing white with beautiful wings carry with them a letter and in the other that it spells AVE MARIA.
Divina Pastora follows next to the eight girls. She carries a staff.
Reyna de las Estrellas of the Queen of stars is next. She carries a wand that has a star.
Rosa Mystica walks with a bouquet of roses.
Reyna Paz or the queen of peace carries with her a peace symbol.
Reyna de las Propetas brings with her an hour glass.
Reyna del Cielo is next. She has with her two beautiful angels and she carries a flower.
Reyna de las Virgines carry a rosary and she has with her 2 angel followers.
Reyna de las Flores carries a flower bouquet with different sorts of flowers.
The last but definitely not the least is the procession of Reyna Elena “Queen Helena”. She represents the founder of the Holy Cross. She carries with her a small cross and is escorted by a man that represents Queen Helena’s son, Constantine.
The procession is then followed by songs of worship and all the devotees follow the procession with lighted candles at hand.
Today, being chosen to represent any of the 18 representatives give great honor. Being chosen as the Reyna Elena becomes more of a prestige to beautiful women as this is like winning a grand beauty pageant. It is now known to be a parade of beauties rather than a procession for the devotees to pay homage to Queen Helena. Nonetheless, Santacruzan is a symbol of the strong Catholic faith of the Filipino people.