Viva Pit Senyor!

Today, on the 3rd Sunday of January, the Church in the Philippines celebrates the Feast of Santo Niño, one of the most popular religious celebrations not only in Cebu City, but also in the entire Philippines.

Short History of the Image of Santo Niño de Cebu

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 Humabon and his chief wife Humamay, to pledge their allegiance with Spain. They were later baptized into the Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos (after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and Juana (after Joanna of Castile).

According to Antonio Pigafetta, Italian chronicler to the Spanish expedition, Ferdinand Magellan himself presented the Santo Niño to the newly baptized Queen Juana as a symbol of the alliance. To her husband Carlos, Magellan presented the bust of “Ecce Homo”, or the depiction of Christ before Pontius Pilate. He then presented an image of the Virgin Mary to the natives who were baptized after their rulers. Magellan died on April 27, 1521 in the Battle of Mactan, leaving the image behind. Legends say that after initial efforts by the natives to destroy it, the image was venerated as the animist creation deity Bathala. 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. Joaquín said that the statue was once denounced by natives as originally brought by Magellan, but was reinforced again by de Legaspi which the natives continued to dispute claiming that the statue came originally from their land.

On April 28, 1565, Spanish sailor Juan de Camus found the statue in a pine box amidst the ruins of a burnt house. The image, carved from wood and coated with paint, stood 30 centimeters tall, and wore a loose velvet garment, a gilded neck chain and a woolen red hood. A golden sphere, a replica of the world, was in the in the left hand, and the right hand is slightly raised in benediction. Camus presented the image to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the Augustinian priests; the natives refused to associate it with the gift of Magellan, claiming it had existed there since ancient times. Writer Dr. Resil Mojares wrote that the natives did so for 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, which states that the statue was caught by a fisherman who chose to rid of it, only to have it returned with a plentiful harvest.

The statue was later taken out for procession, afterwards which Legaspi then ordered the creation of the Confraternity of the Santo Niño de Cebú, appointing Father Andres de Urdaneta as head superior. Legaspi instituted a fiesta to commemorate of the finding of the image, and although the original celebration still survives, Pope Innocent XIII moved the celebration to the Third Sunday of January to avoid conflict with Eastertide.

The Minor Basilica of Santo Niño (Spanish: Basilica Minore del Santo Niño) was built on the spot where the image was found by Juan de Camus. The parish was originally made out of bamboo and mangrove palm and claims to be the oldest parish in the Philippines. Pope Paul VI elevated its rank as Minor Basilica on its 400th year anniversary.

The 51st International Eucharistic Congress officially opens

IECSeventy nine years after the Philippines first hosted the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Manila, the 2016 IEC kicked off in Cebu on January 24, 2016, with thousands of Catholic devotees worldwide in attendance.

The IEC opened with a High Mass at the Plaza Independencia at 4 pm. The mass was celebrated by the legate from Pope Francis, His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo.

The eight-day religious congress is expected to draw 12, 000 participants from 55 countries across the globe.

The Philippines first hosted the IEC in Manila in 1937, the first time it was held in Asia.

Dubbed as “Olympics of the Soul,” this year’s theme is “Christ In You, Our Hope of Glory.”


Here is the full video of Charles Maung Cardinal Bo’s homily.


Day 2 – January 25, 2016


Day 3 – January 26, 2016


Day 4 – January 27, 2016


Day 5 – January 28, 2016


Day 6 – January 29, 2016


Day 7 – January 30, 2016


Day 8 – January 31, 2016


Closing Homily – January 31, 2016


Message of Pope Francis


51st International Eucharistic Congress – Theological Symposium

IECMore than 1,500 participants attend the 3-day International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Theological Symposium at the Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU) which started on January 20 and will end on January 22, 2016.

The Theological Symposium is serving as an underpinning for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress that will be held from January 24 – January 31, 2016, in Cebu. The theme of the IEC 2016 is “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory.” (Col. 1:27). The 33rd IEC on 1937 was held in Manila, the first for the country and has returned only in the Philippine shores after 79 years.

Among the topics to be taken up are the Christian virtue of hope, an exegetical discussion of a passage from the gospel of St. John, liturgy and inculturation, the history of the “Novus Ordo”, the evangelization of the secular world, and a catechesis on the Sunday Eucharist.

The topics have been chosen for their relevance to the theme of the IEC which is three-fold: the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, the liturgical celebration and the social dimension of the Eucharist.

It is hoped that the symposium would give clear ideas to those who are not yet familiar with the theological understanding of the sacrament, or otherwise would offer a review if not deepen the knowledge of those who already have studied and are availing of it.

The symposium would also give a glimpse of the current issues, problems and challenges regarding this sacrament in the different places and cultures of the world.

Workshops will also be held to come up with pastoral plans, strategies and programs.

Day 1 – January 20, 2016

Day 2 – January 21, 2016


Day 3 – January 22, 2016



Here is the homily for the Concluding Mass for Day 3 of the ‪#‎IEC2016‬ Theological Symposium by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD.