The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial government has planned to suggest Larantuka, East Flores District's capital, to become a holy city for Catholics in Indonesia.
The proposal is based on the consideration that Larantuka is a city that is part of the history of the entry of Catholicism into Indonesia and is the first Catholic kingdom in the country.
"Another consideration is the religious celebration of Samana Santa, held since centuries in East Flores and continues even until now," Head of the Destination Division of Tourism and Creative Economy of East Nusa Tenggara Province Eden Klakik stated.
Larantuka, also known as the City of Reinha, is historically religious. The old town, with a small area, located at the foot of Ile Mandiri, has surrendered itself to the protection of Our Lady.
Historical records note that with the arrival of the Portuguese in the XV-XVI century, Portuguese influence too began to be embedded in the life processes of the Larantuka community.
During that time, it was said that the Portuguese brought Resiona, which according to legend is the one who found the statue of Mater Dolorosa or the Mother of Sorrow while stranded on Larantuka Beach, to Malacca to study religion.
After returning from Malacca, Resiona brought a statue of the Virgin Mary, liturgical ceremonial instruments, and an organizational body called Conferia, and also organized political marriages between Portuguese laymen and the local residents.
Around 1665, Raja Ola Adobala was baptized by the name of Don Francisco Ola Adobala Diaz Vieira de Godinho, who was the initiator of the ceremony of the surrender of a golden-headed royal wand to Our Lady Reinha Rosary.
After the scepter was handed over to the Virgin Mary, Larantuka became the city of Reinha and the kings were representatives and servants of the Virgin Mary.
On September 8, 1886, King Don Lorenzo Usineno II DVG, the 10th king of Larantuka, crowned the Virgin Mary as Queen of the Kingdom of Larantuka. Since then, Larantuka is called the Reinha Rosari greeting.
In 1954, the first Bishop Larantuka, Ms Gabriel Manek SVD, had held a ceremony to hand over the Diarrhea Larantuka to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
For over five centuries, the Samana Santa religious tradition remained embedded in the hearts of Catholics in the easternmost region of Flores Island.
The development of Catholicism in the region is inseparable from the role of the Kings of Larantuka, missionaries, the apostolic lay brotherhood (conferia), and all the Semana Tribes and the Kakang (Kakang Lewo Pulo) and Pou (Suku Lema).
A ritual that is followed yearly until now is the appreciation of the popular religion around Semana Santa and the Good Friday Procession or Sesta Vera.
Both these rituals are known as "anak Sejarah nagi" as well as shepherd traditions in the land of Nagi-Larantuka.
Trust in Mr. Ma began five centuries ago. Based on research and several sources written in Dutch and Portuguese, the statue of Mr. Ma was found around 1510 on Larantuka Beach.
Supposedly, the statue got stranded when a Portuguese or Spanish ship sank in Larantuka. That said, during that time, a boy named Resiona found a statue of a woman in search of a snail at Larantuka Beach.
Resiona admitted that at the time she spotted a beautiful woman and on asking her name and where she came from, she just looked down and wrote three words on the sands of the local beach that could not be understood by Resiona.
After looking down and writing the three words, the woman looked up and then turned into a wooden statue.
The three words written were then made a stone fence, so that the sea water could not erase them, while the three-meter-tall statue was immediately paraded around the village, entering the korke, the worship houses belonging to each tribe there.
At that time, Catholicism had not entered Flores, especially Larantuka. However, the Lewonama village head, Larantuka, ordered that the statue be stored in a traditional tribal house. The statue is also revered as a sacred object.
People around Larantuka refer to the statue as Mr. Ma. Literally, Mr. Ma means master and mama.
Meanwhile, the people of Lamaholot call it Rera Wulan Tanah Ekan, Heavenly God, and Earth Goddess.
The community asked Padri from the Dominican Order, who had come to the village, to read the three words that Mr. Ma had written.
The writing meant Reinha Rosario Maria. Padri was moved on seeing the statue and said that this was Reinha Rosary, also known as the statue of Mater Dolorosa or the Mother of Sorrow or Mater Misericordia.
Chair of the East Flores Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Ahmad Bethan welcomed the government's plan to make Larantuka a holy city for Catholics in Indonesia.
"Thank God, because by making Larantuka a holy city, then the behavior too will change," he stated.
EDITED BY INE