MANILA, Aug. 10, 2015— The “miraculous” image of Sto. Niño de Cebu will be brought out in fluvial procession along Pasig River— the first time since the icon was “discovered” in the Philippine island 450 years ago.
The oldest religious icon and a recognized symbol of Catholicism in the country will be taken on a ferry ride on Sunday, Aug. 16, from Intramuros in Manila to Guadalupe Viejo in Makati City.
“This is the first the Sto. Niño will go on a fluvial procession in the Pasig River because, in the past, it was only in Cebu, particularly Mactan Channel,” said Augustinian Father Harold Rentoria.
In celebration of Pope Francis’ second encyclical “Laudato Si,” he said the procession also seeks to highlight the faithful’s responsibility for caring for creation.
“This will be a chance for us to reflect when the Sto. Niño passes through the Pasig River, which was once a very beautiful river but has now become polluted,” he said.
The 27-kilometer long Pasig River passes through the urban areas of the metropolis and forms the most important natural water system in Metro Manila.
The uncontrolled industrialization of Manila and its suburbs after World War II, however, had polluted the river which flows from Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay.
“This will be a stern reminder on the importance of the care for the environment and [to] address climate change, especially after Pope Francis issued the Laudato Si,” Rentoria added.
The encyclical is the Pope’s landmark document on protecting the environment and battling climate change.
The fluvial procession will kick off with a Mass at the Manila Cathedral before the image is brought to the nearby Intramuros Ferry Terminal.
Rentoria said only the ferry of the Metro Manila Development Authority, which has a capacity of 200 passengers, will be allowed in the procession up to the Malacañang area.
“After passing the Malacañang, we will already allow other private individuals to join the procession,” he said.
Upon arrival in Guadalupe, the image will be brought on foot to the Nuestra Señora de Gracia parish church in Makati City for another Mass to conclude the activity.
The event in Metro Manila is part of the 450th anniversary of “Kaplag,” a year-long celebration of the finding of the image of the child Jesus by Augustinian friars in Cebu in April 28, 1565.
It also commemorates the 450 years of Augustinian presence in the Philippines and the 50th anniversary of Sto. Niño church as a “basilica minore.”
The image, which is kept at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño in Cebu City, will arrive in Manila on Friday. It will also be brought to the Sto. Niño de Cebu parish in Biñan City, Laguna.
It will stay in Metro Manila until Tuesday where it will be brought back to Cebu. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)