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” Filipinos, being largely Roman Catholics, venerate and are faithful devotees of the Sto. Niño. Many feasts are offered in honor of the Child Jesus and are celebrated particularly in the month of January.
History In April 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, in the service of Charles V of Spain, arrived in Cebu during his voyage to find a westward route to the Indies. He persuaded Rajah Humabonand his wife Humamay, to pledge their allegiance with Spain. They were later baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos and Juana. Ferdinand Magellan presented the Santo Niño to the newly-baptised Queen Juana as a symbol of the alliance. To her husband Carlos, Magellan presented the bust of the "Ecce Homo", or the depiction of Christ before Pontius Pilate. He gave an image of the Virgin Mary to the natives who were later baptised with their rulers. However, Magellan died later on April 27, 1521 in the battle that took place in Mactan, leaving the image behind. After initial efforts by the natives to destroy it, as legends say, it endured and prevailed to become a pagan idol. The Cebuanos revered the image of the Santo Niño as Bathala (an animistic god of creation). Many historians consider the facial structure of the statue made from Belgium, where Infant Jesus of Prague statues were also common. In 1980, Filipino historian Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín wrote about the 44 years after Magellan's soldiers left before the next Spanish expedition came under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Joaquin said that the statue was once denounced by natives as originally brought byFerdinand Magellan, but was re-inforced again by de Legaspi which the natives continued to dispute claiming that the statue came originally from their land. In 1565, Spanish mariner Juan de Camus found the statue in a pine box at a burned house. The image measures 30 centimeters tall, wearing a loose velvet vestment, a gilded neck chain and a woolen red hood. It is carved from wood and coated with paint. The image holds a golden ball, a replica of the world in the left hand, and the right hand is slightly raised as a gesture of blessing. Camus presented the Image to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the Augustinian priests. The natives refused to associate it as a gift of Ferdinand Magellan, claiming it has existed there since ancient times. Writer Dr. Resil Mojares wrote that the natives refused to claim the statue belonging to Ferdinand Magellan in fear that the Spaniards would demand it back. The natives’ version of the origin of the Santo Niño is in the “Agipo” (stump or driftwood) legend caught by a fisherman who chose to rid of it, only to have it returned with great plentiful harvest. The statue was later taken out for procession, afterwards which Legazpi then ordered the creation of the Confraternity of the Santo Niño de Cebú appointing Father Andres de Urdaneta as head superior. Legazpi installed a festivity in commemoration of the finding of the
First. Like St. it is a miraculous piece of wood. Jesus' infancy and childhood is all about humility. 1565 by Juan de Camus. Although the original celebration still survives until today. Expressive of the pleasing oppositions in Cebuano culture. it is a powerful deity that. was called Capitan General and honored with a 21-gun salute when taken out from the church for a procession. and obedience. otherwise. we rely totally on God for our existence. the gospel reminds us not to cause scandal to the next generation simply because of serving as wrong examples to them. brought to the island by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. we are reminded to enliven our faith instead of letting it remain stagnant because of negative effects of popular religiosity. so too we proclaim God's majesty and glory through our nothingness. power or wealth. it is an icon that “disappears” to become a playful and innocent child cavorting with peasants and fishermen. The devotion to the Infant Jesus brings a much deeper theology than the one mentioned. In local tradition. is with Magellan’s Cross. Secondly. cast out of the Visayan sea.Holy Image. . the most popular symbol of Cebu. Nino as a good luck charm. Paul who said. (Symbol of humility) On the solemn Feast of the Sto. worshipped from “times immemorial”. it is at once both foreign and native. The reality of social sin is bringing havoc over the moral and spiritual growth of our children. it is never about crowns. May we be reminded that despite the things that we own. Who would then among our . The Minor Basilica of Santo Nino (Spanish: Basilica Minore del Santo Niño) was built on the spot where the image was found on April 28. Pope Innocent XIII moved the celebration to the Third Sunday of January so as not to conflict with the 40-day celebration of Easter. On the other hand. Among the wrong notions of practicing the faith is treating the image of the Sto. in the colonial period. it is metaphor for Cebuanos as a people and for what they desire. Pope Paul VI elevated its rank as Minor Basilica on its 400th year anniversary. "I boast of my weakness" because God becomes his strength. Nino. the Santo Nino. The statue is dressed like royal prince with its ornate decorations. it was made by Flemish artisans. we are acting like little gods in this world. In history. On the other hand. enshrined in business suites and cardboard shanties. poverty. Symbols The country’s oldest and most precious Christian relic. we don't have time to serve our Father simply because we are so busy creating our own worlds and thirdly. The parish was originally made out of bamboo and mangrove palm and claims to be the oldest parish in the Philippines. including a sash adorned with old Castilian coins and a Toison de Oro (Golden Fleece) with a ram pendant reputedly given by King Charles III of Spain. Invoked by rulers and subjects to the present day. Jesus' infancy brings out the glory of God the Father.
children recognize the Fatherhood of God if we as adults don't give good examples of Christian servant hood to them? The Santo Niño is the soul of Cebu. And since Santo Niño is a much-revered figure in our local history as in the case of the Santo Niño de Cebu (a gift given by Magellan to Queen Juana. This would possibly explain why many Catholic devotees have transformed the Santo Niño into a work of art—perhaps a doll to play around with to serve as the hapless model of their creation and what can only be surmised as towering fashion innovation. Filipinos in other parts of the country often appreciate if a statuette of the a Santo Niño is brought as apasalubong (travel souvenir) or remembrance from Cebu. This replica is the classical pose but is (Spanish) Caucasian in features while the original is dark brown. a famous spiritual heritage spread all throughout the Philippines and there are Filipinos who unquestionably attribute the miraculous powers of the infant Jesus. the Philippines CEBU. healing of the sick.The Santo Niño devotion is. My visits to Sto. sculptors and image carvers. The church burned down in 1565 but the little statue was undamaged and became a a legend. locally known as the Santo Niño even to the simplest of things. among others. or lying down taking a nap. whether in statue or stamps form. passing of the board exam. or purely divine) playing around the Santo Niño have a distinct human interest angle in the Catholic faithful as they usually involve the booming of business. The Santo Nino exists in various forms. compounded by the influence of boob tube and in print media proved to be a trail of unsuspecting visual extravaganza. It is made of dark wood is given as a conversion gift to the wife of Cebu's ruler Rajah Humabon by Magellan himself in 1521. Niño exhibits over the years. for example. artisans. it also figures quite prominently in the history of the city and the province. . alone or posing with Mary and Joseph. Philippines . indeed. Here in Cebu. The original statue is small. from my personal collection of devotional an 19th century replica from provenance Boho antiques in Cebu. resolution of marital problems. there are varied representations of the Holy Child according to artists. faith (or call it belief) in the power and benevolence of the Sto. The stories (can be mere myths. Niño in princely robe is elemental to whatever happens in the locality. urban legends. is found in all Catholic homes across the entire Philippines. wife of Rajah Humabon of Cebu as form of alliance). from black to white with blonde hair. I have never seen so many Santo Niño icons displayed in wide array in those sessions and believe me. barely about 12" tall. The Santo Niño is more than Cebu's patron saint and is an object of veneration of cult-like proportions. Devotion to the Holy Child Jesus is strongest in Cebu but one.
Jr. a ball. motorcycle driver. though) have one distinct look. Niño who is the titular figure of the Catholic Church. or forgive my lack of words. farmer. There is also a Santo Niño dressed as NBI agent and a Santo Niño dressed as a ship captain. But I don’t blame Sto. perfume bottles and even toys. Some of the pieces were just placed in a glass together with other donated items like wristwatch. for one. Niño for that matter. Niño would have felt comfy wearing gems. humility. In one of my interviews with Monsignor Renato C. a stem of flower. fireman. which for me. Niño icons which are truly priceless. or unrestrained gusto on the part of devotees (who obviously dressed them up) or the ones manufacturing them (who obviously either followed the designer or left with their own discretion). Niño don a police uniform. he said there is “more than what meets the eye”. Papal Chaplain of the Archdiocese of Cebu. pearls and jade encrusted in the crown and cape of the images. a rosary bead. But over and above the quantity and quality of the images on display. Sto. He said that people should look more deeply on the values of a child through the Sto. ornaments and extended fabric. a contradictory image of simplicity. carpenter. The images come in as many forms as there are needs of man. Niño Musem. a freshly-caught fish. I wondered if Sto. Innocence. I have yet to see a Santo Niño carrying a shovel or boxing gloves. the Holy Child has been assigned literally and figuratively to be jack of all trades. When he is clad in his most popular garment color red. It seems that while other saints (every one knows He is not a saint or a patron. some of the icons carry objects that one can think of —a basket of fruits. rings. By then. Normally. I know he has never obliged the church (or the donors) to let Him wear such expensive clothing. fisherman and a school boy. the Santo Niño image would be carrying a globe on one hand and a scepter on the other but in some exhibits. is the greatest value we can learn from the Holy Child. The late Senator Robert Barbers who when he was still a police general had an image of the Sto. pendants. baker. Niño would represent what Filipinos love—boxing. he could be said to be the child deity of general needs And then there were images that were bedecked with precious jewels—truly exquisite works of art. Having studied the icons at close range. I have seen gold pieces. . it seems like he has become a symbol of royalty. Beltran. and a crucifix. There are Santo Niño images dressed to look like a basketball player.. what was alarming was the way these images have become models (or victims at some point) of fashion sense.Some of the images were obviously antique and were donated from collectors who have devoted their time encapsulating Sto. In a visit to the Sto. aesthetics.
I know that all these are reflective of the fondness of Sto. but the images dressed in a floor-length garment complete with a train and a shawl. Niño the way others do. Nino Lagalag believed to love stepping down from its pedestal to wander into amorseko fields and play all day long. or overly decorated gown or in fabrics in bright color is too much. There should be a demarcation line between religious devotion or devotion just to cater one’s whims and caprices. . are way too impossible for the Child Jesus to live up. reclining indolently on a couch. Niño. There are also images of Santo Niño de Palaboy (a street child infant Jesus) which is dedicated to the country’s many street urchins.Filipinos love to give Sto. Niño in many possible ways to complement our peculiarities and idiosyncrasies as devotees. But I can not impose my judgment to everyone. thus. The Santo Niños clad in uniforms are self-explanatory (they are dressed up according to the inclinations of the owner). They are dressed in ordinary house clothes such as shorts and sleeveless tops. But perhaps it is good idea to remind people that the Santo Niño is not a doll that you can play around with or assign fabrics. a Santo Niño image would be standing upright. fashion sense. on a swing. Niño is male. perhaps. Niño Sumasayaw which is said to have a penchant for dancing and a Sto. in stricter terms. In the exhibits. A Santo Niño clad in ordinary clothes is more politically correct than a Santo Niño dressed in princely robes wearing a crown of jewels. But I have nothing against dressing up Sto. It should be known that Sto. It is just strange that people assign a child (and a God at that) personalities which. it is but appropriate to dress him up as such. assume (come on fellows. since it is casual to say that different folks have different strokes. I respect the personal devotion of Filipinos to give honor to the Child Jesus whether they venerate darkly hued images or the icons who have fair complexion. He is just a child). I pray that the Santo Niño has a great sense of understanding and looks at this fashion sacrilege as plainly human attempt to address their worshipping tactics. what is appropriate for me does not necessarily mean suitable for others. But I can be wrong. on a see-saw. There is this Sto. and a sleeping Sto. It is quite reassuring that Cebuanos do not really clothe Sto. Niño and that there is no accounting for piousness and for that matter. Niño different titles. Usually. there are Santo Niño images riding a motorcycle.
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