Joyous Filipino Santacruzan festival held in Toms River

May 19, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.
A floral crown is placed on the head of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary du ring the Santacruzan celebration May 18 in St. Luke Church, Toms River. John Batkowski photo
A floral crown is placed on the head of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary du ring the Santacruzan celebration May 18 in St. Luke Church, Toms River. John Batkowski photo


The Ocean County Catholic Filipino community’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the love of colorful festivals blended seamlessly as the joyous commemorations of Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan were held May 18 on the campus of St. Luke Church, Toms River.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2024 Santacruzan Festival in Toms River

Santacruzan is the culmination of the month-long celebration of “Flores de Mayo,” or “Flowers of May,” honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. An historical religious celebration in the Philippines, it commemorates the search for the True Cross by Queen Helena and her son, Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Processions serve as a re-enactment of the Cross’ finding, led by “Sagalas,” girls representing queens and the other titles of Mary, and the “Reya Elena” or Queen Helena.

Because of inclement weather, the festival was held indoors and included recitation of the Rosary and a procession leading into church where the community would join the parish in its regular 4 p.m. Vigil Mass.

At 2 p.m., scores of young ladies dressed as Reynas (Queens) and their escorts in their very best joined Sagalas representing different epochs in biblical and religious history and angels joined in the procession that is a traditional highlight of the festival wherever it is held. They walked reverently, angels, Methuselah, the Virgin Mary and all, under bedecked arches constructed specifically for the celebration.


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The Ocean County Catholic Filipino community’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the love of colorful festivals blended seamlessly as the joyous commemorations of Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan were held May 18 on the campus of St. Luke Church, Toms River.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2024 Santacruzan Festival in Toms River

Santacruzan is the culmination of the month-long celebration of “Flores de Mayo,” or “Flowers of May,” honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. An historical religious celebration in the Philippines, it commemorates the search for the True Cross by Queen Helena and her son, Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Processions serve as a re-enactment of the Cross’ finding, led by “Sagalas,” girls representing queens and the other titles of Mary, and the “Reya Elena” or Queen Helena.

Because of inclement weather, the festival was held indoors and included recitation of the Rosary and a procession leading into church where the community would join the parish in its regular 4 p.m. Vigil Mass.

At 2 p.m., scores of young ladies dressed as Reynas (Queens) and their escorts in their very best joined Sagalas representing different epochs in biblical and religious history and angels joined in the procession that is a traditional highlight of the festival wherever it is held. They walked reverently, angels, Methuselah, the Virgin Mary and all, under bedecked arches constructed specifically for the celebration.

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