MANILA – The Philippines has sent the exact replica of Santo Niño from Cebu to Spain with the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia as the first stop, the Foreign Office (DFA) said on Thursday.
The replica was presented by the Philippine Consulate General in Barcelona during an international mass in the iconic Spanish church last Sunday, which was celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain Bernardito Cleopas Auza, a native of Bohol, and the Archbishop from Barcelona, Cardinal José Omella.
The original image, also the oldest religious relic in the Philippines, was found in 1565 in what is now the Minore del Santo Niño Basilica in Cebu.
On December 5, the Sagrada Familia received its exact replica as a gift from the faithful Filipino Catholics 500 years after it was given to Cebu by the Spanish expedition, the Armada de Maluco led by Ferdinand Magellan.
“This contribution of the Santo Niño here is really history. I think this is long overdue and it is a special moment to experience as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of (Christianity in the Philippines), ”said Philippine Ambassador to Spain Philippe Lhuillier.
Archbishop Auza said the Holy Image has always been a symbol of Filipino Catholicism for the past five centuries, a devotion that has stood the test of time, as evidenced by the major annual festivals celebrating the image of the ‘Baby Jesus in different parts of the country.
Besides the replica presented by the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu, the mayor of Lapu-Lapu, Junard Chan, also donated another image of the Infant Jesus in Barcelona.
The National Fiftieth Anniversary Committee said Thursday that the two images of the Santo Niño de Cebu will travel through churches in Catalonia, along with the replicas of the historical images of Santo Niño de Tondo, Ternate and Pandacan.
Cebu’s historic Santo Niño comeback is the highlight of PCG Barcelona’s cultural diplomacy program for this year and is part of its 2021 fiftieth anniversary commemorations. (ANP)