Santo Niño de Cebu

The Santo Niño de Cebu is a celebrated image of the child Jesus in the Philippines. It is older than its counterpart in Europe, the Infant Jesus of Prague, and is the oldest Catholic relic in the Philippines. It is housed in a minor basilica in Cebu City.

The story of the Santo Niño de Cebu began when Ferdinand Magellan set sail to the east in 1521 AD. Arriving in Cebu, he persuaded the local chieftain and his wife, Rajah Humabon, to be baptized to as Catholic Christians. As a symbol of the alliance, an image of the child Jesus was presented to the couple. For almost five centuries, the image has survived, battles, earthquakes, fires, wars and several other man-made and natural calamities.

The feast of the Santo Niño de Cebu starts on third Thursday of January, after the feast of the Epiphany. A procession, which involves images of the Virgin Mary, is done and afterwards a fluvial parade is conducted on the Mactan Channel.

A festival by the lay people, called the Sinulog Festival is done with so much fanfare and pageantry during this time of the year. Here, people dressed in native costumes bearing the image of the Santo Niño dance on the streets with a level of energy reminiscent of the Mardi Gras festival.

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