OF THE SANTO NINO
In April 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, in the
service of Charles V of Spain, arrived in Cebu during his voyage to find a westward route to the Indies. He persuaded Rajah Humabon and his wife
Humamay, to pledge their allegiance with Spain. They were later baptized into the Roman Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos and Juana.
Ferdinand Magellan presented the Santo Niño to the
newly-baptised Queen Juana as a symbol of the alliance. To her husband Carlos, Magellan presented the bust of the "Ecce Homo", or the depiction of Christ before Pontius Pilate. He gave an image of the Virgin Mary to the natives who were later baptised with their rulers. However, Magellan died later on April 27, 1521 in the battle that took place in
Mactan, leaving the image behind. After initial efforts by the natives to destroy it, as legends say, it endured and prevailed to become a pagan idol. The Cebuanos revered the image of the Santo Niño as Bathala (a animistic god of creation). Many historians consider the facial structure of the statue made from Belgium, where Infant Jesus of Prague statues were also common.
In 1980, Filipino historian Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín wrote about the 44 years after Magellan's soldiers left before the next Spanish expedition came under Miguel Lopez de
Legazpi. Joaquin said that the statue was once denounced by natives as originally brought by Ferdinand Magellan, but was
re-inforced again by de Legaspi which the natives continued to dispute claiming that the statue came originally from their land.
The natives refused to associate it as a gift of Ferdinand Magellan, claiming it has existed there since ancient times. Writer Dr. Resil Mojares wrote that the natives refused to claim the statue belonging to Ferdinand Magellan in fear that the Spaniards would demand it back. The natives’ version of the origin of the Santo Niño is in the “Agipo” (stump or driftwood) legend caught by a fisherman who chose to rid of it, only to have it returned with great plentiful harvest.
In 1565, Spanish mariner Juan de Camus found the statue in a pine box at a burned house. The image measures 30 centimeters tall, wearing a loose velvet vestment, a gilded neck chain and a woolen red hood. It is carved from wood and coated with paint. The image holds a golden ball, a replica of the world in the left hand, and the right hand is slightly raised as a gesture of blessing. Camus presented the Image to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the Augustinian priests. The natives refused to associate it as a gift of Ferdinand Magellan, claiming it has existed there since ancient times. Writer Dr. Resil Mojares wrote that the natives refused to claim the statue belonging to Ferdinand Magellan in fear that the Spaniards would demand it back. The natives’ version of the origin of the Santo Niño is in the “Agipo” (stump or driftwood) legend caught by a fisherman who chose to rid of it, only to have it returned with great plentiful harvest.
The statue was later taken out for procession, afterwards which Legazpi then ordered the creation of the Confraternity of the Santo Niño de Cebu appointing Father Andres de Urdaneta as head superior. Legazpi installed a festivity in commemoration of the finding of the Holy Image. Although the original celebration still survives until today, Pope Innocent XIII moved the celebration to the Third Sunday of January so as not to conflict with the 40-day celebration of Easter.
The statue is dressed like royal prince with its ornate decorations, including a sash adorned with old Castilian coins and a Toison de Oro (Golden Fleece) with a ram pendant reputedly given by King Charles III in the 17th century.
The Minor Basilica of Santo Nino (Spanish: Basilica Minore del Santo
Niño) was built on the spot where the image was found on April 28, 1565 by Juan de
Camus. The parish was originally made out of bamboo and mangrove palm and claims to be the oldest parish in the Philippines. Pope Paul VI elevated its rank as Minor Basilica on its 400th year anniversary.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia