DEVOTEES, young and old, from Cebu and other parts of the world travel to Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño to venerate the image of Sto. Niño in the days leading to his feast day on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.
Because of its cultural and religious significance, many devotees desire to see the original image of Sto. Niño, as they seek a direct connection to the historical and revered image of the Holy Child.
Fortunately, the four-century-old original wooden image of the Holy Child is accessible to the public.
“We try to correct people that the Augustinians are keeping it. The one visited by churchgoers is the original image. The one people line up for,” Fr. Ion Miranda, one of the priests at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
The original image is encased in a bulletproof glass inside the Sto. Niño Chapel, located at the right side of the church altar.
Sto. Niño Chapel
The Sto. Niño Chapel also called the “marble chapel” has been the permanent resting place of the original Sto. Niño image.
The chapel was built as a manifestation of love and devotion to the Sto. Niño. The architect of the chapel, whose construction was made possible through donations from devotees, is Joaquin Borromeo.
“If you notice when you visit, try to see the floor, it has become deeper. It’s marble, but it’s deeper now because of the (multitudes of) devotees venerating the image,” Miranda said.
The Sto. Niño, the religious foundation for today’s Sinulog festivities, was presented as a baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521.
The custody of the image has been entrusted to the Augustinian order.
However, Miranda said it was only 40 years ago that the custody was turned over to Filipino Augustinians.
“Meaning, those assigned at the Basilica are now all Filipino. Before, priests here at the Basilica were all Spanish,” he said.
While the Augustinian friars conclude the Fiesta Señor in the Basilica during the “Hubo” mass on the Friday right after the feast day, they continue the celebration in other parts of the country and the world.
Miranda said after the Hubo, a pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño will visit Singapore for Filipino devotees there and by tradition, to Ozamiz City and other parts of Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Sur.
This year, right after the Hubo, a pilgrim image will also visit Ormoc City and places around the Archdiocese of Cebu.