CEBÚ City, March 17, 2015—Organizers of the 450th anniversary of the finding of the much-beloved Santo Niño image of Cebu express hope that the forthcoming celebration scheduled on April 28 will help bring in the funds needed to restore the centuries-old church which houses it to its former glory.
In an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, head of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and executive secretary of the 450th Kaplag Committee, appealed to the faithful to support the ongoing repairs on the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú, which incurred damages after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Central Visayas in Oct. 2013.
The priest shared the money to be donated will be used in rebuilding the basilica’s bell tower and other parts of the church already crying for a makeover.
For donation instructions and queries, interested parties may visit http://ushare.unionbankph.com/basilica/.
Rentoria further invited the Filipino faithful, particularly those devoted to the Holy Child, to join the forthcoming 450th “Kaplag” celebrations.
The Augustinian friar shared the Señor Santo Niño had a starring role in the evangelization of the Filipinos, noting the image aptly symbolizes the Christianization of the islands, and its historical significance cannot be denied.
Hope of the People
Themed “Señor Santo Niño: Hope of the People,” this year’s Kaplag, which is Cebuano for “finding” or “discovery,” will mark 450 years since the joyous recovery of the revered image of the Infant Jesus, as well as of Augustinian presence in the country.
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.
Besides the 450th Kaplag and the Augustinian presence, the event will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the elevation of Santo Niño Church to “Basilica Minore,” a title Pope Paul VI conferred on it in 1965 through Papal Legate Archbishop Ildebrando Cardinal Antonuitti.
Tagle Mass, stage play
Prelates from all over the country are expected to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime occasion where Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardianl Tagle is slated to preside over the Holy Mass.
Rentoria added organizers will be staging a play retelling the story of the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines.