Viv La Woz: the government launches a cultural festival of flowers

By Sylvestre Phillip MBE

THE government of Saint Lucia has unleashed the La Woz Flower Cultural Festival in 2022. And people are looking forward to big festivals in the near future.

Growing up in the Marchand community several decades ago, I viewed the La Rose Flower Festival as a celebration for people aged seventy and over, as these are the people I saw attending the flowers. And I have often heard these elders lament that they have tried or are still trying to bring the younger ones with them.

But the celebration in 2022 reflected a different thought. Dozens of young people took part in the activity this year. And many more came to see the show.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Archdiocese of Castries attracted hundreds of participants and supporters of the La Rose Flower Festival. The day began with a church service at the cathedral followed by a presentation in Constitution Park and on William Peter Boulevard.

Groups from across the island were decked out in well-designed outfits of pink and red creating a sparkle in the city. The songs of La Rose followed one another very quickly.

The La Woz Flower Festival is a Catholic festival. The Flower Festival takes its name from Saint Rose of Lima.

But what exactly is the historical tradition of the La Woz Festival which is a cultural centerpiece of Saint Lucia.

Saint Rose de Lima was a Spanish girl from Santa Rosa de Lima whose original name was Isabel Flores de Olivia. She was born in Lima, Peru on April 20, 1586, exactly 436 years ago. Isabelle died on August 24, 1617 in Lima at the age of 31.

Isabella was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church on August 23, 1671. She was born into a noble family and was then called Rosa.

Rosa is a Spanish name for Rose. Rosa/Isabel always showed an expression of penitence or penitence. By penance I mean voluntary self-punishment inflicted on oneself as an outward expression of repentance for doing wrong. His feast day is August 23 which was previously celebrated on August 30.

In Saint Lucia, we observed the holiday on August 30 every year.

Rosa lived a spiritual life at a young age. Her mother wanted her to marry and at first refused to allow her daughter to pursue a religious life. In order to prevent men from pursuing a relationship with her with a view to marriage, the beautiful Rosa cut off her hair and blistered her skin with hot peppers. The struggle between her and her mother lasted 10 years, after which Rosa took a lifelong vow of virginity.

In 1606, her mother relented and allowed Rosa to become a Dominican nun. But his mother did not allow him to live in a convent. Instead, Rosa chose strict enclosure and contemplation and went to live in a cabin in the family garden where she lived a life of seclusion. She only slept a few hours a night. She regularly wore a crown of thorns and practiced fasting.

Rosa was devoted to the sick and hungry in the community and often brought them to her hut to care for them.

Rosa was skilled in sewing and sold her fine lace, embroidery and the flowers she grew in the garden to help her family and raise money for the poor.

Rosa’s funeral was an occasion of public honor and many miracles are said to have occurred after her death. She was beatified in 1668 by Pope Clement IX and declared patroness of Lima. She was actually canonized by Pope Clement X, who proclaimed her patroness of South America, India, and the Philippines.

Now, I don’t want you to get confused between Pope Clement IX and Pope Clement X. Just before a new pope is installed, the pope to be installed chooses a missionary name. He can take the missionary name of the pope before him or any other name. For example Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII; Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II.

Now what do I mean by canonized. This means that she was made a saint in 1671, three years after her beatification. This is the stage before she becomes a Saint. She is now called Saint Rose of Lima or Saint Rose of Lima.

The Saint Lucia Labor Party, ahead of the 2021 general election, pledged to strengthen arts, culture and the creative industry by restructuring state-run cultural agencies into a single entity to achieve synergy and efficiency stronger and aligned with national development goals.

Judging by what I see on the ground, this structure is already taking root. We saw a well organized carnival, a delightful Emancipation Day activity and very recently a participatory La Woz festival with growing numbers.

I can declare now that Saint Lucia would be home to five major cultural activities and the envy of the Caribbean islands. The activities are, Carnival, Emancipation Day, Rose Day. Daisy Festival, Creole Festival or even Jounen Kweyol. The committee in charge of these activities will make us proud to be St. Lucians.

I would like to emphasize that these activities are an integral part of the school curriculum in addition to the teaching of Kweyol in our schools. Little by little we would be brought to a culture without borders. By that I mean it will encompass everything; bringing together all our people.

Indeed, we have a determined Culture Minister and a creative Education Minister who can shake things up in our Fair Helen.

Finally, we have an effective leader and a prime minister who provides the kind of leadership and support to members of his government.

My grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have much to be proud of and participate in, even though I am long gone.

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