DEVOTEES, young and old, from Cebu and other parts of the world visit the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño in Cebu City to venerate the image of Señor Sto. Niño especially in the days leading to His feast day.
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.
The four-century-old original wooden image of the Holy Child is fortunately accessible to the public.
“We try to correct people that wala tagoi sa Augustinians. The one nga ilang bisitahon is the original image. Kanang gilinyahan sa mga tawo,” said Fr. Ion Miranda, one of the friars of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.
(We try to correct the belief that the Augustinians are hiding the original image. The one that people visit is actually the original image. That's what people have been lining up.)
The original image is encased in a bullet proof glass inside the Santo Niño Chapel, located at the right side of the altar.
Santo Niño Chapel
The Santo Niño Chapel, also termed as the “marble chapel,” is now the permanent place of the original Sto. Niño.
It was built as a manifestation of love and devotion to the Santo Niño. The architect of the Chapel, whose construction was made possible through donations from the devotees, is Joaquin Borromeo.
“If you notice when you visit, try to see the floor, nilawm na siya. It’s a marble, but nilawm because of the devotee venerating the image,” he added.
The Sto. Niño, the religious foundation for today's Sinulog festivities, was presented as a baptismal gift by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521.
It is already more than 450 years ago that the custody of the image has been entrusted to the Augustinian.
But Miranda said it was only 40 years ago that the custody was turned over to the Filipino Augustinians.
“Meaning, ang na assign diri sa Basilica is all Filipino. Before, the Basilica, ang mga pari diri is mga Espanyol,” he said.
While the Augustinian friars conclude the Fiesta Señor celebration 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, the pilgrim image of Sto. Niño will visit Singapore for the Filipino devotees there and by tradition to Ozamis and other parts of Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Sur.
For this year, right after the Hubo, the pilgrim image will also visit Ormoc and around the Archdiocese of Cebu. (WBS)