Christianity’s quincentenary in Albay launched in municipality of Libon

By Mar S. Arguelles


LIBON, Albay --- The Diocese of Legazpi on Sunday, Nov. 29, has launched the 500 years of Christianity celebration in this farming town of the province marking the start of the year-long observance that will end in April 2022.


Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said the town of Libon was chosen because it was there that the very first Spanish settlement in the Bicol area was established in 1573, which eventually opened the door to the start of the work of evangelization among the natives by the Franciscan friars in 1578.


The Albay prelate officiated a mass at the St. James the Greater Parish in Libon signaling the observance of the 500 years of Christianity in the shores of Albay.


“Because of the present Covid-19 pandemic, the launch was for only a day (Nov.29), but the entire celebration would be a one-year affair with many activities lined up, both on the local as well as on the national level,” Baylon said.


However, he said the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has allowed those dioceses that feel there is less threat of the Covid-19 virus to open the ceremony, as Nov. 29 is the 1st Sunday of Advent, the start of the new liturgical year, which coincided with the original date of the launching ceremony.


Because of the present pandemic, the opening ceremony was postponed to April next year, so the whole celebration will end in April 2022.


The CBCP in its bulletin said it has adjusted the schedule for the celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the country because of the pandemic.


The bulletin said the scheduled events next year have been adjusted and made to extend until 2022. “The original schedule for the culmination of the celebration in April 2021 will now instead serve as the launching of the year-long celebration that will end in April 2022.”


The year-long celebration for the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines will begin on April 17, 2021, to commemorate the first Easter Sunday mass in the Philippines at Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte. The Diocese of Maasin will lead the celebration.


On April 14, 2021, the first baptism in the Philippines will be commemorated. This celebration will be spearheaded by the Archdiocese of Cebu.