CEBU City, April 25, 2015 – The Archdiocese of Cebu congratulates the Augustinians (OSA) in the Philippines on the ongoing celebration of three important historic milestones associated with their order, saying this shows God’s favor on Filipinos.
“The threefold event is a manifestation of divine grace bestowed upon our people, and an occasion to express our gratitude and thanksgiving to the Almighty God for the gift of faith, and for having chosen our country to be a beacon of light in this part of the world, being a nation in Asia with predominantly Catholic populace,” shares Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma in a recent pastoral letter to the Augustinian Province of Santo Niño de Cebu-Philippines.
Moreover, the prelate underscores the need to thank the Lord for choosing the Filipino faithful to be the light in Asia, given the predominantly Catholic population.
The “tri-celebration” looks back to three significant chapters in the nation’s “faith history”: the 450th anniversary of the Augustinian presence in the Philippines (1565-2015); the 450th anniversary of the discovery or finding (“kaplag” in Cebuano) of the miraculous image of the Child Jesus in Cebu (1565-2015); and the 50th anniversary of the elevation of the Santo Niño Church in Cebu City to the rank of a “minor basilica” (1965-2015).
“Our people’s devotion to the Child Jesus constantly reminds us of the humble beginning of our faith in God. The small image of the Santo Niño given as a gift by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 to the local queen of Cebu on the occasion of her, her spouse and their subjects’ baptism marked the start of the Christianization of our people,” says Palma.
Brought over by Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, the religious statuette was given as gift to Rajah Humabon’s wife, Amihan, on her baptism.
After his death, Magellan’s surviving companions fled, leaving the image behind. It was “discovered” decades later in 1565 in a half-burnt hut by Juan Camus, a soldier of Miguel López de Legazpi, during the conquest of the archipelago.
In this regard, a series of activities and programs themed “Señor Santo Niño: Hope of the People” has been lined up starting on April 18 until April 28 to highlight the importance of the occasion.
With the fifth centenary of the coming of Christianity to the islands in 2021 nearing, the prelate notes this year’s “Kaplag” invites Filipinos to prepare for that big event and to thank God for the countless blessings He unfailingly showered them due to their devotion to His only begotten Son who, “in the fullness of time (cf. Gal 4:4), took the form of a man, becoming a small child.”