450th Anniversary Sets Off

20141215081050_1418631050.jpgLaunched during the annual feast of the Sto. Niño de Cebu on January 18, 2014, the 450th Anniversary has finally set off during its official opening on April 28, 2014.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, DD, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and currently the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines led the Eucharistic celebration commemorating the historic discovery of the image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu locally known as “Kaplag”. The Mass was held at the Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center at around 5:30 in the afternoon. It was attended by Augustinian friars from Filipino Province of Sto. Niño de Cebu and the Manila-based Spanish Vicariate of the Orient. Other religious and secular priests also attended the celebration.

During the Mass, Apb. Villegas reminded the faithful and devotees of the Holy Child to remain faithful on their faith. Praising them for their faith, he encouragingly counselled them: “You heart is God’s favorite place. I tell you – the most beautiful Church in Cebu is not the basilica. It is you. The basilica is made by men. You are made by God.” Towards the end of the Mass, he officially opened the 450th Anniversary with much festive singing of official hymn entitled “Gift of Faith in the Sto. Niño”, and with magnificent fireworks display. After which, the Traditional Sinulog dance was offered whom the Archbishop led by dancing the image amidst the prayerful cries of “Pit Senyor” among the jubilant crowd. It was followed furthermore by the re-enactment of the finding and more dance offerings from candle vendors, members of the Cofradia del Sto. Niño and other lay groups.

The 450th Anniversary is a three-in-one celebration in 2015 commemorating the finding of the image of the Sto. Niño and also of the presence of the Augustinians in the country since 1565. The Augustinians are the first missionaries to evangelize the Philippines. Lastly, it also commemorates the historic and canonical elevation of the Sto. Niño Church as a Basilica Minore in 1965 by Pope Paul VI through his Papal legate Ildebrando Card. Antonuitti.

The Executive Committee formed for this event is composed by communities, organizations and agencies from the Augustinian Province of Sto. Niño de Cebu, Augustinian Vicariate of the Orient, the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the National Commission of Culture and the Arts and the Province and City of Cebu.

Series of activities are being laid down by the committee of religious, cultural and academic in nature aiming for an extensive consciousness of dynamic Filipino faith and rich cultural past. For more information, updates and to follow up the activities of the 450th Anniversary, please visit www.450kaplag.com. (Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA)