I remember years ago when a grade school teacher narrated in class the legend of a headless saint whose image can be found in Caloocan City. I retold the story to my parents. Curious as I am, we drove all the way to the barangay named after the decapitated image of a martyred saint –Sta. Quiteria.
Although little is known about Sta. Quiteria whose feast day is celebrated every 22nd of May, the story of her martyrdom has inspired the Catholic church to include her in the list of saints.
Quiteria was a daughter of a Galician prince. Her father forced her to marry a Roman military officer and worship Roman gods. Refusing to denounce her Christian faith, she fled. However, her father’s men captured her in Gascony, France where she was beheaded on the spot.
Miraculously, her body rose up and grabbed her head. With her head on her hand, she climbed up a mountain and stopped where she wanted to be buried. This explains the image we now see in St. Francis de Assisi and Sta. Quiteria Parish Caloocan City.
One popular miracle attributed to Sta. Quiteria is when held two rabid dogs at bay with the power of her saintly voice. Thus, she became patroness against rabies and is depicted in religious iconography with a dog next to her decapitated image.