Feast of Sto. Niño
GUIDING LIGHT By Fr. Benjamin SIM, SJ (The Freeman) | Updated January 18, 2015 - 12:00am
We celebrate the Fiesta of Sto. Nino in the Philippines on the third Sunday of January. People come from all over to celebrate the Sinulog with us here in Cebu.
The celebration of the Fiesta has a special significance to Cebu because of the Sto. Niño’s historical background. The coming of the Sto. Niño to Cebu marks the birth of Christianity in the Philippines.
The original statue of Sto. Nino was given in April, 1521, by Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer to Queen Juana (Hara Amihan) as a baptismal gift. It was a statue similar to the Infant Jesus of Prague. However, Magellan was killed in the Battle of Mactan later that month.
The Spaniards returned to the Philippines in February 1565. Cebu was the first stop of the Basque explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. He defeated Rajah Tupas (nephew of Humabon) on April 27, destroying the village in the process. The Sto. Niño was found relatively unscratched in a burnt dwelling. This event was quickly acknowledged as miraculous, and a church was later built on the purported site of the discovery.
Later on the Sto Niño became the means of reconciliation and peace between the Filipinos and the Spaniards under Legazpi and Urdaneta.
To this day the original statue is treasured in the Augustinian Church in Cebu City, and has escaped the bombings of the Second World War. Today the Basilica of Sto. Niño is an important historical and religious landmark of Cebu. The Santo Niño was long considered to be the patron of Cebu.
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The Santo Niño symbolizes the whole mystery of the childhood of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church of the Philippines sets the Holy Child as an example of humility and as a celebration of the Incarnation. Many Cebuanos do not consider the Christmas Season over until the Feast of Sto. Niño.