Dec. 8th- An Anniversary of Horror and Faith for Guam

Part of the holiday season in very Roman Catholic Guam is the annual celebration of the Island Patron Saint ”  Santa Marian Kamalen.” Like many Catholic traditions honoring the devotion to Mary,  this one was especially deep in Guam’s cultural traditions.

Santa Marian Kamalen

On December 8, 1941 it took on new meaning.  At the same time, the Japanese were attacking the U.S. Fleet in Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Forces commenced their attack on Guam across the International Dateline.

It happened on this religious holiday when most of the islanders where preparing for the feast day with the annual mass and procession. It was at the most peaceful of days that war entered the island.  Unlike Hawaii, Guam was taken over and its people became prisoners in their home subjected to some horrific crimes.  My own family has in its own legacy. We have our story and witness to such things.

There was even a short but valiant attempt by some locals to fight back the invading forces as there were with the ancient Chamorros when the original Europeans entered the the island. It was the cultural identity and tenacity coupled this time with deep faith that sustained the people.

The statue of Santa Marian Kamalen became the symbol of that faith and was protected and celebrated in secret during Japanese rule.  It was one of the reasons that the people of Guam made it against the odds.

So during this holiday, Guam remembers days far worse than the current economic climate, when peace was wrenched from its land. The people remember the power of  faith which sustains during hard times.  December 8th is a celebration of thankfulness and freedom of a  faithful people.

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