THE 449th Fiesta Señor celebrations officially begins today with a penitential procession from Fuente Osmeña to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.

The procession, known as the “Walk with Jesus,” will mark the first day of the feast of the Santo Niño de Cebu and also kicks off the nine-day novena masses.

The procession will formally start around 4:30 a.m and will converge first at the Fuente Osmeña circle in uptown Cebu City and will end at the Basilica.

Fr. Jonas Mejares, the Basilica’s rector, will lead the opening mass after the procession at 5:30 a.m.

In a press conference, Mejares revealed that the theme for this year’s Fiesta Señor is “Senior Santo Niño, Hope of the People”.

Mejares said the fiesta’s theme is timely for the Cebuano devotees who endured calamities during the previous year.

“Kung ang 2013 kay usa ka tuig sa pagsuway, ang 2014 maoy tuig sa paglaum. Santo Niño is, indeed, the hope of the people (If 2013 was a year of trials, then 2014 is the year of hope),” Mejares said.

After the opening mass, Mejares will also declare the incoming fiesta hermano and hermana mayor. This year’s hermano and hermana mayor are Jay Roble and his wife Elvina.

Last year, Maximiano Fulache and his wife Maria Corazon were the hermano and hermana mayor.

With the start of the nine-day novena today, 11 masses will be held daily at the Basilica. The Basilica will also be open for 24 hours a day.