The Santo Niño de Cebú (Spanish: Holy Child of Cebu/ Batang Banal ng Cebu in Filipino) is a Roman Catholic title of Jesus Christ associated with a religious vested statue of the infant Child Jesus venerated by many Filipino Catholics who believe it to be miraculous. It is the oldest religious Christian image in the Philippines, and was originally given in 1521 as a baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan via Antonio Pigafetta, who physically handed it to Lady Humamay, the chief consort of Rajah Humabon, along with a statue of the Virgin Mary and the bust of the Ecce Homo.
The image merited a Papal recognition on 28 April 1965 when Pope Paul VI issued a papal bull for the Canonical Coronation and Pontifical High Mass via the papal legate to the Philippines, Cardinal Ildebrando Antoniutti who con-celebrated it's 400th centennial anniversary.
The image measures approximately twelve inches tall, and is believed to be originally made in Flanders, Belgium. The statue is clothed in valuable textiles, and bears an imperial regalia that includes a gold crown, globus cruciger, and various scepters mostly donated from devotees in the Philippines and abroad.
The Santo Niño image is replicated in many homes and business establishments, with different titles reinterpreted in various areas of the country. The Holy Child's feast is liturgically celebrated every third Sunday of January, during which devotees carry a portable Santo Niño image onto the street fiesta dancing celebrations. The image is one of the most beloved and recognizable cultural icons in the Philippines, found in both religious and secular areas. It is permanently encased within bulletproof glass in a chapel at the Basílica Menor del Santo Niño.
The image of the Santo Niño is kept in the Santo Nino Chapel of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. It is considered the oldest religious relic in the Philippines.
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 chief wife Humaway, to pledge their allegiance to Spain. They were later baptized into the Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos (after Charles V) and Juana (after Joanna of Castile, his mother).
According to Antonio Pigafetta, Italian chronicler to the Spanish expedition, Ferdinand Magellan handed Pigafetta the image to be given to the Rajah's wife right after the baptismal rite officiated by Padre Pedro Valderrama. It was Pigafetta himself who personally presented the Santo Niño to the newly baptized Queen Juana as a symbol of their new alliance, her newly baptized husband King Carlos, Magellan presented the bust of "Ecce Homo", or the depiction of Christ before Pontius Pilate. He also presented an image of the Virgin Mary to the natives who were baptized after their rulers. Magellan died on 27 April 1521 in the Battle of Mactan. Legends say that after initial efforts by the natives to destroy it, the image was venerated as the animist creator deity Bathala. Many historians consider the facial structure of the statue made from Belgium, where Infant Jesus of Prague statues were also common.
44 years after Magellan's soldiers left, the next Spanish expedition arrived on April 27, 1565, led by Miguel López de Legazpi. He found the natives hostile, fearing retribution for Magellan's death, and the village caught fire in the ensuing conflict. The next day, the Spanish mariner Juan Camus found the image of the Santo Niño in a pine box amidst the ruins of a burnt house. The image, carved from wood and coated with paint, stood 30 centimetres tall, and wore a loose velvet garment, a gilded neck chain and a red woolen hood. A golden globus cruciger or orb was in the left hand, with the right hand slightly raised in benediction. Camus presented the image to Miguel López 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 get rid of it, only to have it returned with a 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 Andrés de Urdaneta as head superior. Legazpi instituted a fiesta to commemorate the finding of the image, and the original celebration still survives.
The Minor Basilica of Santo Niño (Spanish: Basílica Minore del Santo Niño) was built on the spot where the image was found by Juan Camus. The church 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.
for more info you may visit thier official website at http://basilicasantonino.org.ph/index.html
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