Category Archives: Religious Beliefs/Creencias Religiosas

Patron Saint Celebrations

Fiestas Patronales de la República Dominicana/ Celebrations of the Patron Saints of Dominican Republic

Patronales/ Patron Saints. Every town and village in Dominican Republic has it’s own patron saint. Each town has a celebration for their saint. These celebrations usually cover an entire weekend or more with a party, music and just getting together of the towns inhabitants in the local park of gathering area. It is a time of sharing with the neighbors and another excuse for having a party. Not that Dominicans need an excuse to have a party or a good time….

Here is a list of Patron Saints and different celebrations and what town celebrates that saint. The dates are a general reference and can change year to year depending on the dates the government sets. Try to visit a town during their celebrations. You will be so happy you did, even if you are not Catholic.

Festival San Miguel in Santo Domingo

Enero / Janurary

1 Santo Cristo de los Milagros of Bayaguana – ofrenda de los toros/ The Offering of the bulls (More information about this tradition go to our page on Town Traditions)
21 Nuestra Señora de La Altagracia o Virgen de la Altagracia. Celebrated in San José de Ocoa, Monte Plata, Villa Altagracia, Paraiso y los bajos de Haina. More information on Altagracia

Febrero / February

2 Virgen de la Candelaria patron saint of San Carlos, in Santo Domingo and Sabana Grande de Boyá.
11 Nuestra Señora de Lourdes patron saint of Peralta in Azua
16 San Elías Barón del Cementerio/ The Barron of the Cemetery.

Marzo / March

3 y 4 San Benito de Palermo celebrated in Guayabal, a providence of. Azua
4 y 5 Procesión Romana-Higüey a procession to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia in Higüey,starting at the Obelisco in La Romana
8 Miércoles de Ceniza/ Ash Wednesday
17 Damballah is symbolized by un arco iris/ Rainbow
19 San José this saint is celebrated in the towns of Restauración in Dajabón, Río Grande in Puerto Plata, Villa Vásquez in Prov. Montecristi, San José de las Matas in Prov. Dajabón, Yamasá in Prov. Monte Plata, El Valle in Sabana de la Mar. In Azua this patron saint is celebrated with carnival like festivities.

Abril / April

8 Amancia Pérez patron saint of Pueblo Arriba, Baní. This is the death of this saint who was the keeper of the San Juan Bautista en la Cofradía/ Saint John the Baptist in the Brotherhood
14 y 15 La Dolorita patron saint of Los Morenos, Villa Mella. She is a saint who bestows miracles and helps the people. It is celebrated by hundresd with salves, atabales, rezos y cantos/dance, prayers and song.(to learn more about salves, atables and afro dominican music)

Mayo / May

1 San José Obrero celebrated in Villa Jaragua in Prov. Bahoruco and Ensanche Ozama in Santo Domingo
3 San Felipe Apostol patron saint of Puerto Plata.
13 Nuestra Señora de Fátima celebrated in Villa Sinda in Prov. Montecristi, Galván in Prov. Bahoruco, Arenoso in Prov. Duarte and Hondo Valle in Prov. Samaná.
15 San Isidro el Labrador celebrated in Castillo in Prov. Duarte, Luperón in Puerto Plata, Las Caobas in Santiago Rodríguez, CLavelLina y Uvilla in Prov. Bahoruco, EL Llano in Elías Piña, Santé y La Enea in Prov. La Altagracia.
21 Espíritu Santo celebrated in Cotuí and many of the rural communities throughout Dominican Republic. (Here is a little information on this music)
18(?) Santa Rita de Casia celebrated in Juan Barón a Prov.of San Cristóbal, Sabana Perdida in Santo Domingo
30 San Fernando Rey patron saint of Montecristi.

Junio / June

11 San Bernabé patron saint of Villa Mella.
13 San Antonio de Padua patron saint of Bonao in Prov. Monseñor Nouel, Guerra in Prov. Monte Plata, La Victoria in Santo Domingo, Villa Rivas in Prov. Duarte, Monción in Prov. Santiago Rodríguez, Miches in Prov. El Seibo
22 Corazón de María patron saint of Chaquey Abajo in Cotuí
29 San Pedro y San Pablo patron saint of San Pedro de Macorís; Las Salinas in Prov. Barahona, El Cercado in Prov. San Juan de la Maguana, Fundación de Peravia in Prov.Peravia.
30 San Pablo Apóstol patron saint celebration in Villa González

Septiembre / September

7 Nuestra Señora de los Remedios patron saint of Azua, Cabral in Barahona, El Limón in Jimaní, Naranjo in San Juan de la Maguana
14 Exaltación de la Santísima Cruz patron saint of Mao in Valverde
24 Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes/Las Mercedes is patroness of the firefighters and the Patron Saint of the Dominican People. More information, picture and video of Mercedes and the celebration.
29 San Miguel Arcángel / St. Michael, the Archangel is the patron saint of the Dominican armed forces. He is the Captain of the Celestial Legions. Combating the devil he leads the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. Celebrated in the Santo Domingo town of San Miguel.

Octubre / October

1 San Francisco patron saint of Bánica
4 Nuestra Señora del Rosario patron saint of Barahona
12 Nuestra Señora del Pilar patron saint of Sabana de la Mar and Cevicos.
14 Santa Rosa de Jesús patron saint of Elías Piña.
15 Santa Teresa de Avila patron saint of Comendador in Elías Piña
24 San Rafael patron saint of Boca Chica, Capotillo, Palma Herrada y los 21 in Moca, San Rafael del Yuma, Tamboril, Estancia Vieja in Santiago Rodríguez, Villa Tapia y Quita Sueño in Cotuí, Guayacanes in Valeverde
29 San Judas Tadeo patron saint of Escondido in Baní

Noviembre / November

1 Todos los Santos patron saint of Maguana in San Juan de la Maguana
21 Nuestra Señora de Regla patron saint of Baní

Diciembre / December

5 Santa Bárbara patron saint of Samaná
8 Inmaculada Concepción patron saint of Cotuí, Monte Grande in Dajabón, Estancia Nueva in Moca, Sombrero in Baní, Oviedo in Pedernales, Ramón Santana in San Pedro de Macorís
13 Santa Lucía patron saint of Las Matas de Farfán and El Peñón in Barahona
18 Virgen del Amparo patron saint of Polo in Barahona and Esperanza in Valverde
27 San Juan Evangelista patron saint of Salcedo

To see a map with all the Dominican Republic Provinces (Prov.) listed.

Semana Santa

Semana Santa, República Dominicana / Holy Week, Dominican Republic

1.Semana Santa Description 2.Traditional Foods 3.Operation Semana Santa Safety Restrictions

Semana Santa / Holy Week/ Easter

is a very important time here in Dominican Republic. Religious Holidays are recognized countrywide since the countries main population is Catholic. Christmas, Epiphany and other religious holidays are very important but Semana Santa is the most important of all these religious holidays.

Carrying a representation of the cross of Christ in a Semana Santa procession.

The long weekend for the Easter holiday is usually used to go away, usually with family. The churches are full as people respect the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus or El Senor. Most people go home, wherever this may be, just to hang with family and friends or just to visit the old hometown. Others flock to the beaches, rivers and other tourist areas to take advantage of the 3 days free from working. The city of Santo Domingo turns into a ghost town. Most businesses and stores are closed. Highways and streets are almost empty except the main roads leading out of the cities. Sunday evening the roads fill. There are traffic jams galore. All is congested once again with all the people returning to their homes and get back to real life once again.

The Semana Santa procession band dressed as Roman Soldiers.

Be aware! If you plan on visiting Dominican Republic during this time, especially heading to beach and recreation areas I highly suggest that you make your reservations in hotels far in advance. Most hotels are full and it will be very difficult to find a bed to lay your weary head if you procrastinate.

Semana Santa Procession down Isabel la Católica

There are Police, Military, Red Cross and many volunteers along the roads and at all the main intersections making sure people are obeying the traffic laws. They are also stationed on the beaches and at the popular rivers to insure that people have fun and are safe.

The Dominican Civil Defense will be stationed throughout the country with the participation six thousand workers and more than eight thousand volunteers in over 1400 strategic locations. They will be watching beaches, rivers and highways to make sure the big weekend runs smoothly.

As per the Catholic tradition first comes Ash Wednesday/ Miércoles de ceniza. Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday / Domingo de Ramos. On Holy Thursday/ Jueves Santo morning is the Chrism Mass/ Misa Crismal and in the evening is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, accompanied by the washing of feet and a procession. At noon on Good Friday/ Viernes Santo is the Sermon on the Seven Words. Holy Saturday/ Sabado Santo an Easter Vigil is held from around 11pm until dawn. Then on Easter Sunday/ Domingo de Resurrección or Domingo de Pascua there is an Easter Mass at noon.

The statue of the Virgin Mary /Altagracia in the Semana Santa procession.

The church of

Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes

(on Calle Mercedes and Jose Reyes in Zona Colonial) is the place to be in Santo Domingo for the religious ceremony. After the service, around 5PM, there is a procession to the first cathedral in the Americas, Cathedral Santa Maria. Here is held a special Mass called Eucharist.

The long Semana Santa procession going down Calle Isabel la Catolica in the Colonial City.

Gaga celebrations

are held in many areas of the country, especially areas with large Haitian settlements and communities with strong African roots. Here in Santo Domingo in the city of Villa Mella one can see and hear these gaga drum celebrations with music and dancing. Gaga ceremonies have both magical and religious parts. The spirits are invoked including Luaces (lights in Creole) along with other mysterious, holy and powerful beings. There is usually lots of music, dancing and drinking. (A little information about GaGa)

Other celebrations include the Guloyas in San Pedro de Macoris. They are known for their colorful outfits and lively dances and characters that walk the streets.

Nicolas de Jesús López Rodriguez heading to Thursday Mass
Nicolas de Jesús López Rodriguez heading to Thursday Mass

The Cardinal of Dominican Republic, Nicolas de Jesús López Rodriguez, and the Bishops walking across Calle Isabel la Catolica to the Sunday Easter Mass at the Cathedral Santa Maria, the first Cathedral in the Americas, in Ciudad Colonial.

See the picture collection of the 2014 Good Friday Procession in Ciudad Colonial.

A big pot of habichuelas con dulce.

Dominicans have their traditional food dishes

they prepare for Holy Week. Since many people do not eat meat during this time fish and seafood is very popular. Potato Salad Dominican style is a favorite. The most popular dish is called habichuelas con dulce / Sweet Beans and usually can be found in every home throughout the country. It is a mix of red beans, condensed milk, spices and other ingredients served cold pudding style. Usually these dished are made in large quantities to serve all who might visit and to share with the neighbors. Here is the recipe for habichuelas con dulce in case you want to give this traditional desert a try.

The Semana Santa Procession

on the corners of Calle Padre Billini and Isabel la Catolica in Ciudad Colonial 2012. It is not very clear. I am sorry. It was getting dark. I tried to lighten it some.

Operation Holy Week/ Operativo Semana Santa

During the holiday weekend there are many restrictions according to Resolution No. 96/2012.

*Jet Skis and Wave Runners, Motorized Boats, Horses, Motorbikes, and Motorized Vehicles are NOT permitted on the beaches in the entire country from Thursday to Sunday.

*There will be NO boats used in
-Laguna Gri Gri in Rio San Juan
-The Sanoa Island
-Catalina Island
-Cayo Levantado Island

*Heavy equipment vehicles are prohibited to be on highways from 6AM Thursday until 6AM Monday.

*There is usually a curfew of 5:45PM for swimmers to get out of the water daily on busy public beaches.

*Many places have a ban on loud music for the weekend. Inside businesses it is OK but the noise is not permitted to weft outside. This is not enforced like it used to be but it still happens in many locations. It is especially quiet on Good Friday around noon until midnight.

*Many beach areas have a “No Glass” rule in force. You cannot enter the beach area with any alcoholic beverage in glass bottles.

*Many of the more dangerous beaches and rivers are closed (some closed beaches include San Soucí, Manresa, Güibia, the coastline of Avenidas España and Las Américas, the beach of San Andrés, banks of the Ozama River, Río Isabela Norte, la Poza in Hato Nuevo, San Rafael, Los Patos, River Yaque del Norte. Also the Damns of Bao, Taveras, El Pinalito, López Angostura, El Papayo, Sabana Yegua, de Yuboa and de Chacuey) at this time to ensure the publics safety. Also water motor sports are prohibited close to beach areas during the holiday. There is usually a complete listing of the closed areas on the Civil Defense web site http://www.defensacivil.gov.do. I will also post any special events and happenings in the area on the Colonial Zone News Blog.

Easter Sunday sunrise 2013

Las Mercedes

Our Lady of Mercy/ Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Patrona de la República Dominicana

According to the legend on March 1495, Christopher Columbus, accompanied by a few Spanish men had to face the Chief and a large number of Indians in a battle for gold. They built a trench from which to do battle and planted a large wooden cross next to this trench. It is said that the Virgin appeared on the cross.

The Indians made the Spanish run from their trench, retreating to a hill. The Indians tried to destroy the cross and even tried to burn it but they could not destroy it. Because of the aggressiveness of the Indians Columbus and most of the troops decided to leave. Fray Juan Infante, who carried a statue of Our Lady of Mercy, urged the Spanish to continue fighting and promised them victory on behalf of the Virgin.

The next day the forces of Columbus had victory over the native peoples of the island, taking what belonged to these original peoples of the island.

Columbus told his son Diego that he wanted to build a church in this spot in the Virgins honor. In 1527 atop the hill was established in the first convent of the Order of Mercy. After this incident, there was a shrine built to honor Our Lady of Mercy at the very top of the hill where Columbus planted the miraculous cross.

Iglesia Santo Cerro, La Vega
Iglesia Santo Cerro, La Vega

Holy Hill/ Santo Cerro

The church that sits on this spot now was built in 1880. This shrine of Holy Hill/ Santo Cerro is atop a hill that is about 8 miles from the town of La Vega. Every year on September 24 thousands of the faithful makes a procession there to honor this patron saint. There is a museum here and from the veranda, atop the holy hill El Santo Cerro, there is a spectacular view of Valle De La Vega Real in the Cordillera Septentrional.

The Virgen de la Mercedes is well known and loved in many countries including Peru, Argentina and many other countries.

Our Lady de Altagracia/ Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia watching over Ciudad Colonial
Our Lady de Altagracia/ Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia watching over Ciudad Colonial

Mercedarios

Since 1259 padres Mercedarios begin to spread devotion to Our Lady of Mercy (or Mercedes) that extends around the world. San Pedro Nolasco, inspired by the Blessed Virgin/ Santísima Virgen, founded an order dedicated to the mercy/ la merced (which means works of mercy/ obras de misericordia). San Pedro Nolasco and his friars were very devoted to the Virgin Mary. They took her as their patron saint and guide. Los mercedarios were knights of the Virgin Mary/ caballeros de la Virgen María in the service of his redeeming work and honor as Mother of Mercy or Virgin Redeemer/ Madre de la Merced o Virgen Redentora.

Iglesia y Convento de las Mercedes

The Iglesia y Convento de las Mercedes/ The Church and Convent of Our Lady of Mercy located on Calle Mercedes in Colonial Zone has services for the Virgin every year on September 24 is Día de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes when there is a procession in her honor.

A video if the procession going up Calles 19 de Marzo crossing Arzobispo Nouel in Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on September 24, 2008

See the dates of all the Patron Saint celebrations throughout Dominican Republic