Flores de Mayo tradition celebrated in Saskatoon at Holy Family and St. Patrick parishes

Participants in the Flores de Mayo procession held after Sunday Mass May 26 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon gather in the church's welcoming area. (Photo by Jon Perez, Canadian Catholic News)

By Jon Perez, Catholic Saskatoon News

The parishioners of the Holy Family Cathedral in Saskatoon witnessed the Filipino festival of the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) on Sunday, May 26. During this festival, more than 30 participants were dressed in various titles attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary and other female role models from the Bible and Catholic tradition.

Also known as Santacruzan, the annual festival was also celebrated Sunday, May 26 at St. Patrick Parish in Saskatoon, where it has become an annual parish event.

Celebration at Cathedral of the Holy Family

A Flores de Mayo procession was held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family May 26 in Saskatoon. (Photo by Jon Perez, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The community held a rosary and procession around the Holy Family Cathedral grounds after the 11 a.m. Eucharistic celebration. Fr. Gerard Cooper, rector and pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Family , and Associate Pastor Fr. Joe-Nelo Penino led the group. Later, participants gathered in the lobby and sang the Marian hymn Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).

The festival is a long-standing tradition and one of the devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary observed in the predominantly Catholic Philippine archipelago. It is also known as the Santacruzan, from the Spanish word Santa Cruz (Holy Cross), honouring the discovery by St. Helena of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Felicitas “Fay” Santos-Vargas, one of the event’s organizers at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, expressed gratitude for the community’s active participation in the Santacruzan, held for the first time in the parish. She emphasized that the event wouldn’t have been as successful without the parishioners’ involvement in the entourage and as volunteers.

“We hold the Santacruzan every year in the early 1990s under FILCAS [Filipino-Canadian Association of Saskatchewan] as part of the Filipino Heritage School. It stopped during COVID, and we organized it again this year, but this is the first time held in the parish,” said Santos-Vargas.

She also thanked the Knights of Columbus of the Dennis Mahoney Council 8215 for providing meals to everyone who attended the event at the Cathedral.

Celebration at St. Patrick Parish

A procession before Sunday Mass was part of the Flora de Mayo festival at St. Patrick Parish in Saskatoon May 26. (Photo by Helen Florida)

St. Patrick Parish also held its Santacruzan festival on Sunday, May 26, holding the procession before the 10:30 a.m. mass. Children also offered flowers to the Virgin Mary, as the event, held every May in the Philippines, is one of the essential religious traditions for Filipinos who honour the Blessed Mother.

Helen Florida, who is part of the organizing committee and a St. Patrick’s Parish Council member, said the annual festival shows the Filipinos’ rich cultural heritage and deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ.

“We’ve been doing it for over 10 years, and it has become an annual event at St. Patrick, even since Fr. Gerard [Cooper] was assigned here. We continued the tradition when Fr. Gerard took a sabbatical and Fr. David [Tumback] took over as our pastor,” said Florida.

“Not even COVID stopped us. Everyone just wore masks, and we practised social distancing. Fr. Gerard and Fr. David both like the religious traditions of Filipinos, such as the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) and Simbang Gabi, the nine-day novena during Advent.”

She added that Tumback encouraged the community to hold the event – which was approved by the parish council – annually as it is one of the Filipino religious traditions welcomed by the parishioners in the west side of Saskatoon, where a sizeable Filipino Catholic population resides.

Florida added that they only had two weeks to prepare, but the community’s participation and support were overwhelming. She acknowledged all the children who participated, their parents, the volunteers, and parishioners, as everyone was eager to participate and lend a helping hand.

“It is not only the Filipino community here at St. Patrick that looks forward to the Santacruzanevery year, but all parishioners. Many volunteers helped, from those who organized the kids to those who guided the procession. This event is good for the Filipino community and the entire congregation at St. Patrick’s,” said Florida.

Flowers surround the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the festival at St. Patrick Parish in Saskatoon. (Photo by Helen Florida)


St. Helena is the mother of Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. According to ancient tradition, St. Helena made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 326 A.D. to seek the cross where Christ was crucified, in order to preserve the relics.

According to several accounts, Helena wanted to find the place of crucifixion and the cross where Christ was crucified. Her group found the location of the cross through various accounts from many locals and with the help of St. Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem.

They found three crosses after two thieves were also executed, Dismas and Gestas, and the True Cross was revealed after a dying woman miraculously came back to life. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in what is believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

More photos from cathedral celebration: