TO symbolically open the Lenten season and end the annual fiesta celebration of the Sto. Niño, a “Hubo” mass was conducted yesterday at the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

The “Hubo” mass, which is celebrated every Friday after the feast of the Holy Child Jesus, is an annual tradition of the changing of the vestments of the image of the Sto. Niño.

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During the mass, devotees who flocked to the Pilgrim Center to witness the ritual were called to surrender their lives to the Holy Child.

“God emptied Himself for us. Gi-hubo Niya ang iyang pagkabalaan para kanatong tanan. Ato sab pamalandungan kung andam ba ta mohubo, dili sa atong bisti, kundi ang atong tibuok kinabuhi para kang Ginoong Jesukristo (He became man for us. We should think if we are willing to do the same, to surrender ourselves for Christ),” said Fr. Raymundo Alcayaga, who celebrated the mass.

In his homily, Alcayaga also encouraged the devotees to “wear the coat of God” like Jesus, who was ready to sacrifice and to be powerless in order to preach the good news for the salvation of the people.

Alcayaga said that in the past, “Hubo” was conducted by the Augustinian friars at the Basilica in private and was witnessed by a chosen group of people.

However, when the public knew about the ritual, they then asked the Augustinian priests to allow them to witness it.

The Augustinian community performed the ritual publicly for the first time in 1990.

The ritual conducted during the “Hubo” mass included the removal of the Sto. Niño’s crown, followed by the orb, the scepter and the armlet, the bands, cape, tunic, the inner garments and boots.

The naked image of the Sto. Niño was immediately dipped in perfumed water.

Alcayaga said that the undressing of the Sto. Niño is “not a humiliation but a self-emptying of the Lord our God.”

The Sto. Niño was dressed up again with a less ornate attire and prayers were recited for each of the 33 pieces of clothing, which signifies an event in the life of Jesus on earth.

Yesterday, 15 masses intended for the “Hubo” were celebrated at the Pilgrim Center.