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CEBU READY TO MARK 500 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY IN PH



SANTO NIÑO. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (in amaranth red skull cap) is assisted by Agustinian Friar, Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., Basilica Minore del Santo Niño's prior-rector, in mounting the centuries-old image of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu whose fiesta is celebrated on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Facebook page/Pitik DM Daan)

CEBU CITY — The Archdiocese of Cebu is set to host various events to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021, during which the Roman Catholic faithful in the country expect the presence of Pope Francis, Archbishop Jose Palma said Sunday morning.

Palma said the invitation was already sent to Vatican for the leader of 1.2-billion members of the Roman Catholic Church in the world to visit the Philippines.

“Two years from now, saulogon nato ang ika-500 nga anibersaryo niining unang bunyag, niining unang misa (we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first baptism, the first mass),” Palma said in his homily during the pontifical mass in honor of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu whose fiesta is celebrated Sunday, January 20.

“Ug itugot ni Lord, i-ampo nato nga posible moabot ang Papa kay giimbitar man. Mag-ampo kita for that kalooy sa Dios, kay importante kining kasaulogan sa 500 ka anibersaryo sa pag-abot ni Santo Niño dinhi sa Cebu (If the Lord permits, let’s pray for the possible visit of the Pope who has been invited to come. Let’s pray for God’s mercy because this is an important anniversary of Santo Niño’s arrival in Cebu),” Palma said.

The Archbishop said the country is known to be the “cradle of Christianity in Asia,” with history commemorated every January.

He reminded the devotees about the significance of the “kaplag” (finding) of the miraculous image of Santo Niño on April 28, 1565, some 44 years after the arrival of Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, in March 1521.

“Sayod kita nga tuig 1521 pag-abot sa mga Katsila gibunyagan si Queen Juana ug gihatag ang imahen ni Santo Niño ninyo (We know it as a fact that in 1521, when the Spaniards arrived, they baptized Queen Juana and the image of the Santo Niño was given),” he said.

Juana was the wife of King Humabon, the ruler of Cebu when Magellan arrived.

After 44 years, he said, when the Agustinian missionaries arrived with Miguel Lopez de Lagazpi in Cebu, the image was found unscathed in a scorched hut.

“The point is, we say that the Spaniards found the Santo Niño image, but the truth is, it was the Santo Niño who found us, the people in Islas de la Pilipinas,” Palma said in his homily.

The Cebu Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has set this year’s theme for the year of the youth, “Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered,” in preparation for the 2021 celebration of 500 years of Christian faith, he said.

Palma urged the faithful to pray for this big celebration.

Meanwhile, thousands of devotees flocked to downtown Cebu City to participate in the religious aspect of the celebration, while fiesta-goers went to the Cebu City Sports Complex and the nearby uptown areas to watch the Sinulog festival, a Sto. Niño fiesta-inspired dance competition by different contingents from the country and abroad.

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, chair of the Sinulog Foundation’s executive committee, said the start of the Sinulog parade went well. (PNA)

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