Saturday, July 24, 2021

500-year-old icon still on display

IT is almost five centuries old, but the original image of the Child Jesus is still being displayed inside a bullet-proof glass box at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu.

The original image of the Santo Niño, which was brought to Cebu by conquistador Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, has been open for viewing by pilgrims and visitors, said Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes of the Order of St. Augustine.

Reyes, the Basilica’s media liaison officer, told SunStar Cebu that while they allowed the public to view the original image of the Holy Child, this is closely guarded and could no longer be brought outside for the Fiesta Señor activities.

The age and vulnerability of the pine wood used to carve the image has prevented the Augustinian community in Cebu from using it for special occasions.

The last time the original image was used in an outside activity was in 1993, he said.

Officials of the Augustinian community in Cebu stopped the practice after the icon fell from the carroza during one of the solemn processions.

It was broken and had to be restored.

Reyes said the Basilica had to create six replicas, including the “replica mayor,” which was used in the procession yesterday.

Reyes urged the faithful to continue to believe in the Santo Niño, regardless of the image.

“They don’t need the original image just to empower their faith. The images are only aids to prayers. They don’t have supernatural powers. But people are connected to the image of the Santo Niño because it allows them to reminisce their experience. Each time they see the Santo Niño, they are reminded of their success, their joys and even the challenges they face in life,” Reyes added.
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