Biggest Catholic event after Pope’s visit set

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CEBÚ City, March 18, 2015—The Augustinian fathers (OSA) of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú invite all Filipino faithful, especially devotees of the Holy Child (Santo Niño), to take part in what is believed to be the biggest event yet in the Philippine Catholic Church in 2015 after Pope Francis’ recent apostolic visit: the forthcoming 450th “Kaplag” celebrations on April 28.

The devotion to the Santo Niño or the Infant Jesus is one of the most beloved devotions of Filipino Catholics. (Photo: CBCPNews)

Symbol of PH Christianity

In an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, OSA, executive director of the Kaplag committee, stressed the important role the Señor Santo Niño played and still plays in the spread of the Gospel across the archipelago.

“The Señor Santo Niño aptly symbolizes the Christianization of the Philippines. As such, its significance in our history cannot be denied,” he said.

Finding Niño

Kaplag, a Cebuano word meaning “finding,” aims to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the joyous recovery of the revered image of the Infant Jesus after it went “missing” for years.

According to historians, the Santo Niño statue was brought over by Portuguese mariner Ferdinand Magellan, who then gave it as baptismal gift to Amihan, the wife of Cebuano king, Rajah Humabon, in 1521.

1565 recovery

However, following his death at the hands of Mactan warriors, Magellan’s surviving companions fled, leaving the image behind. Juan Camus, a soldier of Miguel López de Legazpi, reclaimed the image decades later in 1565 in a partially burnt hut during the successful conquest of the islands.

More celebrations

Besides the finding of the Santo Niño, the 450th anniversary of Kaplag will also commemorate the 450 years of Augustinian presence in the Philippines.

Moreover, the event will mark the 50th anniversary of the elevation of Santo Niño Church to “Basilica Minore,” a title conferred in 1965 by Pope Paul VI through his Papal Legate Archbishop Ildebrando Cardinal Antonuitti.

Cardinal Tagle’s Mass

Prelates from all over the country are expected to grace the once-in-a-lifetime occasion where Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardianl Tagle will preside over the Holy Mass.

Rentoria added organizers will be staging a play retelling the story of the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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