Devotees flocked to Basilica in record numbers

Devotees flocked to Basilica in record numbers
Photo by Amper Campaña

THE Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu welcomed an average of 300,000 devotees daily during the novena masses for the 459th Fiesta Señor celebration, an Augustinian friar said.

Rev. Fr. John Ion Miranda, a member of the Order of St. Augustine (OSA) friars, said the count already includes churchgoers who heard the masses in the vicinity of the Basilica, including Plaza Sugbu and Osmeña Blvd.

OSA is the Catholic mendicant order that manages the Basilica, which houses the image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Miranda told SunStar Cebu on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, that an average of 20,000 devotees attended every novena mass, but only 5,000 were allowed to enter the church.

He said they made sure there was enough breathing space and room for responders of medical emergencies.

He said the crowd limit applied to the whole Basilica compound, including the votive candle station, the church building and the 3,500-seater courtyard or pilgrim center.

There were 10 scheduled masses during the opening salvo and nine masses on the last day. But in between, 11 masses were scheduled throughout the day.

Miranda said they recorded the highest number of devotees on fiesta day last Sunday, Jan. 21.

A large number of devotees and revelers flocked to Cebu City to pray at the Basilica and to watch the Sinulog Grand Parade and Grand Ritual Showdown at the South Road Properties, respectively, last Sunday.

Cebu City Police Office Director Col. Ireneo Dalogdog told SunStar Cebu’s special live coverage of Sinulog that up to three million people joined the celebrations.

Miranda, who served as the secretariat of safety, security, peace, and order for Fiesta Señor this year, was grateful for the success of the religious activities, including the major ones.

“Despite the small challenges, we still achieved our goals. We are thankful for the inter-agency collaboration, especially with Task Force Sinulog and Fiesta Señor, for their coordination. We truly worked together as one,” he said.

Fiesta Señor and the Sinulog Festival, while they share the goal of venerating the image of the Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu, differ in their focus. The former, led by the Augustinian friars, centers on the religious aspect, while the latter, led by the Sinulog Foundation Inc., emphasizes cultural festivities.

Since last year, the routes of the three processions that take place during Fiesta Señor — the dawn procession of the Walk with Jesus during the opening mass, the Walk with Mary at the onset of the Traslaciones of the images of the Holy Child and Virgen de Guadalupe de Cebu to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City and the Solemn Foot Procession on Visperas — have undergone some changes.

During the Walk with Mary last Jan. 11, an estimated 200,000 devotees participated in both the procession and the 5 a.m. opening mass.

During the Walk with Mary and the Misa de Traslacion on Jan. 19, crowd estimates were placed at 250,000.

On Visperas Day last Saturday, Jan. 20, around 200,000 devotees participated in the seaborne procession, while another 1.2 million devotees attended the foot procession in the afternoon.

Sustain the faith

Miranda encouraged people to show their faith through their actions like being kind and spreading goodwill to others.

“We are very grateful to the Lord Jesus, the Holy Child, because He always accompanies us in unity. So it is wonderful if we, in unity, uplift the Holy Child and strive to sustain our faith,” he said.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.